Imagine millions of women who want to limit their family size or space their next birth, but can’t because they lack access to family planning. Imagine that many of these women have no knowledge of family planning at all. Hard to imagine after decades of national and global investments in health? This is the reality for many families around the world, particularly in developing countries, where approximately 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning.
Innovative approaches to reach people with family planning information and services are critical. Under FHI 360’s PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) project —a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve family planning services among underserved populations in developing countries — a key strategy is to move beyond the health sector to reach women and men of reproductive age who need family planning but might not otherwise have access to it. As non-health development programs reach a large proportion of the world’s poor, PROGRESS builds on these networks to bring family planning information and services to communities. Family planning has been shown to contribute to the broader development goals of poverty reduction, enhanced education, environmental sustainability and gender equality, and therefore fits well with the goals of non-health development programs. Currently, PROGRESS supports several intervention-based studies on integrating family planning into non-health programs such as agriculture, environment and microfinance.