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Launched in 2012, the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) movement aims to expand voluntary, high-quality family planning services to 120 million additional women and girls by 2020. Yet as FP2020 reaches its halfway point, gains thus far fall short of aspirations. To consider how scarce donor resources could go farther to accelerate progress, the Center for Global Development (CGD) convened the Working Group on Alignment in Family Planning in fall 2015. A final report is expected in November 2016.
In July 2012, world leaders gathered in London to support the right of women and girls to make informed and autonomous choices about whether, when, and how many children they want to have. There, low-income country governments and donors committed to a new partnership – Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) – an aspirational goal – 120 million new users of voluntary, high-quality family planning services by 2020 – and $4.6 billion of additional funding.
Since then, 24.4 million women and girls have become users of modern contraceptives, 6.4 million more than would be expected based on historical trends. Yet as FP2020 reaches its halfway point and new, even more ambitious goals are set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, actual increases in contraceptive usage fall short of projected progress. The midpoint of the FP2020 initiative is thus an important inflection point, offering an opportunity to take stock of progress, refine funding and accountability mechanisms, and reallocate existing resources for greater impact. While primary responsibility for expanding contraceptive access will fall squarely on country governments, donor contributions will also play an important role; in many countries, including Nigeria, for example, donors finance the lion’s share of family planning program budgets.
With the goal of better allocating scarce donor funds to reach as many women and girls as possible by 2020, the Center for Global Development (CGD) convened the Working Group on Alignment in Family Planning in fall 2015. Drawing from original empirical research and country case studies in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, the Working Group is considering the following questions:
What are the criteria and processes used by donors to allocate family planning resources across countries? Does the resulting distribution of funding align to different measures of country need?
Within countries, to what extent are the FP2020 Costed Implementation Plans (CIPs) and other coordination platforms helping to align donor and government funding behind the most effective interventions? How can the CIPs be improved to serve as more useful operational documents?
To what extent have FP2020 mechanisms succeeded in aligning procurement systems and supply chains for family planning commodities? Are there opportunities for greater efficiencies, or potential risks to supply security?
What is the incentive and accountability environment for family planning programs? Could donors create better incentives for domestic resource mobilization and service delivery quality?
Working group meetings were held on September 15, 2015 in Washington D.C., and March 22-23, 2016 in London. Working group members served in their personal capacities. A final report is anticipated for November 2016.
Working Group Members
Julia Bunting, The Population Council
Hannah Cameron, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Lester Coutinho, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Laura Dickinson, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Priya Emmart, Avenir Health
Margot Fahnestock, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Victoria Fan, University of Hawaii
Caitlin Feurey, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Senait Fisseha, The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation
Meena Gandhi, United Kingdom Department for International Development
Rifat Hasan, The World Bank
Jane Hobson, United Kingdom Department for International Development
Rolla Khadduri, MannionDaniels
Rosanna Kim, United Kingdom Department for International Development
Tamara Kreinin, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Joshua Lozman, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Andrew Mirelman, University of York
Grethe Petersen, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
Scott Radloff, PMA2020
Jessica Schwartzman, FP2020
Beth Schlachter, FP2020
Rachel Silverman, Center for Global Development
Ellen Starbird, United States Agency for International Development
Alexandra Todd, United States Agency for International Development
The development community was abuzz with a co-authored column in the Financial Times this week; Ivanka Trump and Jim Yong Kim teamed up to make the case for more aid in support of greater women’s economic participation and earnings. The two write that “we know what works”, and CGD’s Mayra Buvinic and Megan O’Donnell have indeed parsed the evidence here.
But there is one intervention omitted from Ivanka and Jim’s must-do list: access to family planning as a pre-requisite and enabler of women’s economic empowerment.
In the US, we already know access to contraception was crucial for women’s economic empowerment. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, many young women first gained legal and socially acceptable access to the ‘pill’. Suddenly, they saw a freer, less constrained future—one where they could prevent pregnancy, invest in their educations, find the right partner, build a career, and, perhaps most importantly, plan for the lives they wanted. Since it now made sense for smart, motivated young women to invest in a career path, their enrollment in law and medical school skyrocketed. More women entered the labor force—and once they did, the pill helped them stay in their jobs for long and predictable enough intervals to climb the career ladder. As women invested more in their education, chose higher-yielding career paths, and leaned in to the labor force, the wage gap between men and women narrowed substantially.
For women like ourselves who have benefited from access to contraception, the impact is intuitive and obvious. And across the world, research shows that contraception can help women take control of their life trajectories. In Colombia, for example, the introduction of family planning programs in the late 1960s led adolescent girls to anticipate a career outside the home and invest in their futures. As a result, they stayed in school longer and, years later, took more jobs within the formal labor market. Likewise, increased access to family planning gave Indonesian women the chance to complete extra schooling, postpone marriage, and ultimately build smaller families with better educated husbands. The impact can even spill over across generations. In Bangladesh, for example, access to family planning enabled women to extend their children’s education by 12–15 percent.
Why does this matter? Because—as Ivanka and Jim point out—women in many low- and middle-income countries remain deeply disadvantaged in their access to labor markets, education, land and other kinds of capital. Worldwide, women are a third less likely than men to participate in the labor force—and even when they do, they earn 20–80 percent less than equally qualified men. These inequalities constrain women’s economic contribution to the global economy and to their own families.
Axios reported that Ivanka Trump has “begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe” with “both countries and companies” contributing to create a pool of capital to economically empower women at the World Bank: “Canadians, Germans and a few Middle Eastern countries have already made quiet commitments, as have several corporations, a source said.”
But here we must contrast the commitment and passion for women’s economic empowerment with the magnitude of proposed cuts to USAID’s work on family planning; a 36 percent cut is set out in the draft FY18 budget request for USAID. As Rachel has pointed out here, the US provides about 50 percent of all global assistance to family planning, and 36 percent of all family planning commodities purchased using public or donor monies in low-income countries. Having some or all disappear has very concrete implications for prospects of women’s economic empowerment.
If genuinely committed to promoting women’s economic empowerment, we hope the Administration reconsiders cuts to the US voluntary family planning program at USAID. If cuts proceed, we hope rumored donors Germany and Canada rethink their investments in a new women’s economic empowerment fund if it means sacrificing family planning along the way.
Under the Obama administration, US funding for family planning has grown significantly; in 2015, US bilateral disbursements totaled about $638 million, representing 47.5 percent of total bilateral disbursements. The increased investment has been good news for women, girls, and their families; access to contraception helps prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, reduce maternal and infant mortality, and empower girls to avoid adolescent pregnancies and invest in their educations and future careers. But a new administration could mean new priorities at home and abroad—and funding for family planning may be particularly at risk. The family planning community still has time to make the case for sustained US funding, protecting the gains that it has already achieved. But smart advocacy should also be accompanied by contingency planning—what would it mean for the United States (US) to substantially cut its contribution?
Consider this: right now, in low-income countries (LICs), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contributes about 28 percent of all funding available for contraceptive commodities. (That proportion grows substantially, to 36 percent, if you exclude private out-of-pocket spending.) According to data provided by FP2020 (on request), there are currently about 36 million users of modern contraception in LICs. With some back of the envelope math (and assuming cost per contraceptive user is uniform across different funding sources), that means that about 10 million women and girls in low-income countries currently rely on USAID funding for their contraceptive commodities. And the effects of US funding cuts would extend far beyond USAID’s commodity supply chains; the US is also the largest funder of direct family planning service delivery, and US funds support other contraceptive suppliers like UNFPA and the World Bank.
Source: Estimate compiled by USAID, based on Avenir Health data and Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (2016). Global Contraceptive Commodity Gap Analysis.
How would low-income countries respond to such a shock? Well—with great difficulty. Government expenditure in LICs barely even registers on the chart; note the tiny purple sliver at the top (just 2 percent!). Realistically, most LIC governments would not be able to fill a funding gap generated by USAID cuts. Private funding—mostly women’s out-of-pocket payments—already accounts for 23 percent of the total; without government funding to fill the gap, that proportion would likely rise, drawing from scarce household budgets. Meanwhile, the overall donor landscape for family planning financing looks shaky. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, total donor funding fell 6 percent in 2015 even as the US contribution held steady. The main culprit: an appreciating US dollar that has reduced the real purchasing power of non-US donor governments.
In this context, the family planning community needs a contingency plan to ensure continuity of services for existing users in the face of hypothetical US cuts. Funders should ask themselves two questions:
Can I increase funding for family planning to help fill a gap—and by how much? In this scenario, UK leadership will become even more essential. In 2012, the UK helped reignite the global family planning movement through its leading role in the creation of FP2020; in 2017, DFID may need to act again to maintain existing momentum. And now would be a great time for other donors to increase their investments—could Canada, Japan, South Korea, or private foundations step up with some new money?
If necessary, which existing funds can be reallocated to ensure continuity of services? Doing so would likely entail difficult trade-offs—for example, redirecting advocacy or behavior change funds toward commodities and direct service delivery—that might compromise long-term efforts to expand access. Yet the human cost of forced discontinuation is unacceptable. And pulling the rug out from women and girls who currently rely on contraceptives will generate enormous distrust among the populations that FP2020 is trying to reach, potentially causing irreversible damage to family planning efforts.
Beyond any immediate fears, the current situation also illustrates the big-picture danger of donor dependency. Donor funding, especially for contentious issue areas like family planning, is highly vulnerable to shifting domestic priorities. Low- and middle-income countries will need to increase their domestic expenditure on family planning to weather donor shocks; a government expenditure share of just 2 percent simply won’t be viable in the long-run. That means donors should accelerate and expand existing efforts to create better incentives for government co-financing—an issue we highlight in our recent working group report on the FP2020 partnership.
The bottom line for the FP2020 partnership: it’s time to hope (and work!) for the best—but plan for the worst.
In July 2012, world leaders gathered in London to support the right of women and girls to make informed and autonomous choices about whether, when, and how many children they want to have. There, low income-country governments and donors committed to a new partnership—Family Planning 2020 (FP2020). Since then, the focus countries involved in the FP2020 partnership have made significant progress. Yet as FP2020 reaches its halfway point, and new, even more ambitious goals are set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, gains fall short of aspirations.
There’s a mixed bag of news in the recently released Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) global progress report on efforts to expand access to high-quality, voluntary family planning services. First the good: real strides have been made in helping more women and girls make healthy and autonomous reproductive choices. Since 2012, 30.2 million additional women and girls have capitalized upon expanded access to become users of modern contraceptives—6.2 million more than would be expected based on historical trends alone. Yet this forward progress remains well below the initiative’s aspirational trajectory, suggesting its headline goal—120 million additional users by 2020—will be an uphill climb. And many countries have failed to meet their individual financial or programmatic commitments.
So what more can be done? CGD’s new report Aligning to 2020: How the FP2020 Core Partners Can Work Better, Together offers three big recommendations for donors on the path to 2020. They are laid out in greater detail later in this blog, but in brief we urge donors to be more strategic and collaborative in how resources area allocated at the national level; we would like to see stronger incentives developed and rolled out for co-financing and performance; and we encourage greater accountability and learning across the results chain.
Our report, a year in the making, is the product of a CGD working group convened to consider the key question of how donors and the FP2020 Secretariat can best align and use family planning funds to accelerate global progress. The working group focused on the three largest family planning donors—USAID, DFID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—but included broader participation from the FP2020 Secretariat, multilateral and foundation donors, and the FP2020 accountability partners. To inform our discussions, we conducted original empirical research looking at the flow of family planning funds (Fan et al. and Mirelman, forthcoming); we also took on “deep dive” case studies in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.
CGD’s main findings on FP2020
Our report makes findings in four main areas:
First, funding has grown, but risks are on the horizon. Currency depreciations are affecting the real value of non-US donor contributions, political crises are turning donors’ attention away from family planning, and changes in leadership may lead to declines in overall financing or affect its stability in the long term. In 2015, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, donor funding for family planning remained flat in real terms.
Second, the allocation of donor resources does not closely track family planning need. Each donor takes a different approach to cross-country allocation, using different criteria and processes. Country-led costed implementation plans (CIPs) have helped set a broad direction for countries’ family planning programs, with significant buy-in from country governments and civil society, but most still exhibit important limitations that constrain their utility to optimize resource allocation decisions.
Third, alignment of commodity purchasing and supply chains has improved substantially, but the sustainability of parallel supply chains may be at risk given the volatility of aid. Fourth, countries have few incentives for co-financing family planning, and some disincentives to domestic investment.
Fourth, high-level accountability for progress and results is in place, but there is little to connect success or failure to particular streams of funding or service provision.
To address these gaps, our report offers three concrete recommendations for donors and the FP2020 Secretariat:
Recommendation 1: Support more strategic and collaborative resource allocation at the country level, building on successes and existing coordination platforms.
Costed Implementation Plans (CIPs) should be improved to include realistic, model-based targets and a blueprint (not “wish-list”) of activities where current and new donors’ resources could be most impactful. CIPs should also be redesigned to reflect key changes in the political and financial operating environment, such as decentralization or the launch of the Global Financing Facility.
Donors should improve their data reporting to initiatives like the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) to be more granular and timely. Donors should also be more transparent about their current and future resource allocations (over a three- to four-year time horizon) to facilitate government planning and inform other donors’ investments.
Donors should be more strategic about their resource allocation by critically analyzing variation in family planning need and access across countries, subnational regions, wealth quintiles, and age groups.
Recommendation 2: Create and test stronger incentives for greater co-financing and performance.
Donors and country governments should consider the introduction of performance-based incentives across various different relationships and levels of government (for example, between donors and grantees, or between a national government and subnational units) where appropriate. Any performance-based incentives must be designed to fully respect the principles of voluntarism and informed choice.
Donors should consider the introduction of stricter co-financing policies or matching fund schemes for commodity purchases to increase domestic resource allocation by country governments.
Recommendation 3: Enhance accountability and learning across the results chain.
Grantees’ self-reported results should be independently verified on a regular basis and at least a portion of funded programs should undergo rigorous, independent impact evaluations.
Results from past and future impact evaluations of donor-funded programs should be pooled into one database and donors should require that all project evaluations be submitted there to promote evidence-based policymaking and programming.
Donors should maintain and enhance their support for initiatives that track family planning expenditures.
These recommendations provide a roadmap for donors to improve their family planning programs and allocate resources more efficiently, allowing them to better support the right of women and girls to make informed and autonomous reproductive choices. We hope donors take these recommendations and this opportunity to heart – and we’ll be watching to see whether they take the necessary steps to accelerate progress toward the FP2020 and Sustainable Development Goals.
The Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative hit its midpoint this year, about four years after its launch by global health leaders in 2012. Set up to “expand access to family planning information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 of the world’s poorest countries by 2020,” the initiative has faced the usual cat herding challenges that go along with its expansive mandate to recruit new funding commitments, track actual spending, coordinate donors and country actions, report on trends in contraceptive prevalence and other FP2020 goals, serve as a clearinghouse for data and knowledge, work with countries to do better planning, and serve as a global voice and advocate.
The issue of family planning is undeniably at the center of development. Family planning can save lives and empower women to make their own choices about the number and timing of their births, especially the estimated 133 million married women and girls in the 69 FP2020 focus countries that wanting to postpone or avoid pregnancy but not using modern contraception—plus many more unmarried women and girls who are not yet captured in FP2020 annual estimates. Further, it’s not just about health and rights; access to family planning increases women’s labor market participation, creating opportunities to pursue different and better jobs. Family planning can also help countries reduce their youth dependency ratios and realize a demographic dividend, or manage rapidly growing populations amid scarcity of land, water, or other resources.
Yet despite the importance of the issue, the 2015 FP2020 report showed only modest progress to date and a stubborn gap between aspirational goals and reality. Worse, in 2016, early signs suggest that funding to family planning has dropped from some of the most important donors, creating a funding crisis within key institutions like UNFPA’s supplies programs.
What’s going on? Next week, FP2020 will release its 2016 progress report with updated numbers and analysis. And we’ll have our own two cents to add as well; over the past year, a CGD working group of family planning funders and accountability partners took a hard look at how resources have been allocated and deployed, and whether measurement and accountability efforts were working as well as possible to motivate better performance and greater investment. The results of this work suggest some practical recommendations to align efforts for greater impact. We’ll be publishing our report next Thursday, November 3, on the heels of the FP2020 release.
In the meantime, here are three questions to ask while reading the FP2020 progress report:
Does the money match the goal(s)? The goals are many and ambitious—what is FP2020’s assessment of the fit between funding availability and its stated goals? Is there a need to “rightsize” one or the other to fit budgetary realities?
Are donors and countries delivering on their funding commitments? To fund what? With 93 commitment-making partners, FP2020 faces an ongoing challenge in determining whether good intentions translate into actual disbursements. And with news reports of donor aid cuts, I’ll be reading to learn more about this difficult topic. Similarly, our work suggests that domestic spending on commodities in some countries (Kenya, Nigeria) has declined, and that donors have stepped in to pick up the slack. Is this a generalized phenomenon? Are donors or other donor co-financing requirements crowding out domestic spending on family planning? And how well is family planning fitting in to Global Financing Facility investment cases? The GFF places a strong emphasis on health—does that risk under prioritizing family planning, which has significant non-health benefits? Finally, where exactly is the money being spent—and on what? We know a lot about commodity purchases, but the rest is a blur—can we get greater clarity in this year’s progress report? If not, why?
Are accountability mechanisms helping to enhance impact and translate financial commitments into disbursements? The family planning field is unique in its extensive data collection directly from households and women in low-income countries; from the Demographic and Health Surveys to the PMA2020, the field is light-years ahead in measuring outcomes rigorously and regularly. Yet this high-level accountability can’t be related to actual service providers in any given geographical area—making it tough to hold any specific provider, implementer, or government actor accountable for progress or stagnation. Budget tracking is also a relatively new activity. What does this year’s report have to say on this topic? What more could be done?
So next week, instead of worrying more about the US election, worry about family planning access—and let’s figure out what can be done to align and speed progress.
More than 5000 international personalities and technical experts are wrapping up the Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen this week. The topic: how to empower women, reduce gender inequality, and improve the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in low- and middle-income countries.
Family planning and reproductive health commodities are central to this broader agenda. Yet according to our onsite sources, the conference has barely (if at all) remarked on the funding cuts that UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has experienced since last year.
This funding crisis unfortunately has its roots in Women Deliver’s Scandinavian backyard. Denmark, the country playing host to the conference, has actually cut its funding to UNFPA in half since last year, thereby affecting the organization’s ability to purchase family planning commodities on behalf of low-income countries. The Guardian also reported that Finland, two years ago UNFPA’s third largest donor, has reduced its core funding to the agency from €33.55m (£26.3m) last year to €19m in 2016.
These cuts to UNFPA run deep. Worse still, most of these decisions have been taken with little advance notice, from one fiscal year to the next, allowing no time for other donors to substitute or for recipient country governments to budget the expenditure themselves.
While there is much to say about how to make UNFPA more effective, the organization’s family planning commodities procurement and distribution program (UNFPA Supplies) is a star, purchasing and supplying commodities for about a third of all users of modern contraceptives in Family Planning 2020 focus countries. The UNFPA commodities program is also notable for its data transparency and demand forecasting efforts (see here).
Data provided to me by UNFPA suggests that the supplies trust fund had a terrible year in 2015 (receiving about 40% of what it received in 2014) and the situation looks about the same for 2016.
So what’s going on? Aid budgets are under pressure to respond to the European refugee crisis, as in Sweden. UN contributions are increasingly scrutinized, as in Finland. Norway bet its money on the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank.
Together, it’s a perfect storm for UNFPA Supplies; the agency now estimates a US$750 million funding gap for 2016-2020 just to maintain current activities. And on the current trajectory, achieving the FP2020 or SDG goals looks entirely off the table.
What is Women Deliver—an advocacy conference—doing to help raise money for the cause? Where is Family Planning 2020 on this topic? Here is a do-or-die moment for the so-named accountability mechanisms to create accountability; can they rise to the occasion?
Five thousand researchers, practitioners, advocates and others are descending on Copenhagen for Women Deliver, the largest conference focused on the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls.
Much of what will be discussed aligns with CGD’s own work through our global health policy and gender and development programs, so we’re pleased to be attending and below, we’re pleased to share with you a few of the conference areas where we can add our voice.
Women’s economic empowerment: from trendy to timeless
Even more so than in past years, Women Deliver will include a specific focus on women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion; one of the conference’s core themes is “Banking on Women’s Economic Empowerment.”
Along with senior fellows Charles Kenny and Mayra Buvinic, we’ve been working to ensure that women’s economic empowerment transitions from trendy to timeless, in part by harnessing the attention currently being given to the topic at high-level meetings and international conferences. To turn words into action, we must go beyond traditional interventions—which often take the form of skills trainings for individuals—and examine the broader constraints women face: pervasive gender biases in economic institutions and services. Along these lines, we’re updating the Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment to build the evidence base of what works to increase women’s incomes and productivity.
We also want to know more about how to promote women’s financial inclusion specifically, so CGD is leading large-scale evaluations in Indonesia and Tanzania, designed to measure the impact of supply and demand side interventions on women’s ability to access and use mobile savings platforms.
Expanding women’s life choices through access to family planning
As in previous years, Women Deliver 2016 will focus on enabling women and girls to make autonomous reproductive choices through access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care—with important implications for their sexual health and rights. Yet there’s also reason to believe that a particular subset of reproductive healthcare—voluntary, convenient access to family planning—can have more extensive, dramatic implications for women’s economic and social equality. In a recent CGD note, we describe how the diffusion of contraceptives in the United States led young women to anticipate a life course where they could plan the timing of their pregnancies, encouraging them to invest more deeply in higher education and pursue professional opportunities within the labor force. The potential implications for women and girls in low- and middle-income countries are enormous, but still poorly understood. Our note lays out a research agenda to help better understand these connections. At Women Deliver, we hope to engage with the research and policy community on these important links.
We’re still learning how access to family planning expands women’s educational and economic opportunities. While those answers remain elusive, there are many concrete
Ctrl+Click or tap to follow the link">reasons to support voluntary, high-quality family planning services for all women and girls, and particularly underserved communities in low- and middle-income countries. To help more women and girls capture these benefits and exercise their reproductive rights, CGD recently convened a working group on alignment within the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership, looking at how international funders and technical partners can better allocate their resources to accelerate access to and improve the quality of family planning services. (We expect to release preliminary recommendations later this year.) At Women Deliver, we hope to hear the very latest on how FP2020 partners are working together to reach more women and girls and identify good practice and evidence that we can incorporate into our final report.
Measuring and evaluating the impact of programs targeting women and girls
Over the last month, we’ve been sharing our latest book, Millions Saved: New Cases of Proven Success in Global Health, with policymakers, practitioners, and the academic community. The book is a compilation of 22 case studies that showcase what works—and what doesn’t—to improve health in low- and middle-income countries. Several of the cases highlight impressive gains for women and girls. In Kenya and Pakistan, cash transfer programs helped keep girls in school and reduce early sexual debut and marriage. In Mexico, installation of cement floors in poor households made mothers remarkably happier. And in India, the Avahan program reached sex workers with HIV prevention interventions, reducing their risk of contracting the deadly disease.
Yet over the last few weeks we’ve heard one question time and again: why doesn’t the book include a program on sexual and reproductive health? Our (perhaps unsatisfactory) answer has been that no reproductive health or family planning programs met the core criteria for inclusion: programs had to be large scale, ongoing for several years, and have had a measurable impact on health—determined by an impact evaluation. It is this last criterion where many programs fell short.
In the hopes that the next volume of Millions Saved will feature family planning or reproductive health, we’re excited for the many Women Deliver sessions focused on data, measurement, and evaluation, particularly the panel on how to evaluate the effectiveness of programs targeting women and girls. New documentation on how to measure our impact is published all the time, so we’re keen to hear about the latest research and methods—and perhaps to nudge the community toward broader use of rigorous impact evaluation.
We’ll be blogging throughout the conference with updates on what we’re hearing in panel sessions and on the sidelines. Stay tuned for more!
Theory and some empirical evidence suggest the two goals – reproductive rights for women and women’s economic empowerment – are connected: reproductive rights should strengthen women’s economic power. But our understanding of the magnitude of the possible connection and the nature of any causal link (vs. coevolution or reverse causation) in different times and places is limited. In this note we summarize what we know up to now and what more we could learn about that connection, and set out the data requirements and methodological challenges that face researchers and policymakers who want to better understand the relationship.
This paper reviews empirical evidence on the micro-level consequences of family planning programs in middle- and low-income countries. In doing so, it focuses on fertility outcomes (the number and timing of births), women’s health and socio-economic outcomes, and children’s health and socio-economic outcomes throughout the life cycle. In practice, family planning programs may only explain a modest share of fertility decline in real-world settings, and may also have quantitatively modest - but practically meaningful - effects on the socio-economic welfare of individuals and families.