Family planning: empowering people, developing nations

Family planning image

The theme of this year’s World Population Day, which is celebrated on 11 July each year, is “Family planning: empowering people, developing nations”.

World Population Day coincides with the Family Planning Summit, which is being held in London, and is organised by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Family Planning Summit

The Family Planning Summit is timely given Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning US financial support for organisations involved in abortion services overseas, making the need to secure additional funding for family planning all the more imperative.

The summit brings together policymakers, advocates and donors from all around the world, to assess the progress of the Family Planning 2020 goals, which were laid out at an earlier summit in 2012, and which seek to empower more women in developing countries to be able to plan both their families and their futures.


The London summit will look at the finance and supply chains required for the procurement and distribution of modern contraceptives; the means for making family planning information more widely accessible; and ways to reach people whose access to family planning has been traditionally restricted by either economic, cultural or social barriers.

Family planning and development

There are an estimated 225 million women around the world who currently have an unmet demand for modern contraceptive methods.  In most instances, there is a direct link between poverty and lack of family planning, whether it be the unavailability of information or medical services, or a lack of support from local communities.

Access to safe, voluntary family planning is not only a fundamental human right, it is also a major factor in reducing poverty in some countries and, as such, can help to be a driver for sustainable development objectives.

Currently, only 1% of all overseas development aid is assigned to family planning schemes.  This is because it is too often seen purely as a health issue and not something, which has impacts on wider development initiatives.

Want to learn more?

SOAS University of London runs a wide range of courses in Development Studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The module Gender and Development is available for study on courses in MSc Development Studies; MSc Environment, Politics and Development; MSc Globalisation and Development; MSc Labour, Social Movements and Development; MSc Migration, Mobility and Development; and MSc Violence, Conflict and Development.

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