Innovation and Partnership

How do we expand access to contraceptives and services for an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries? Many live in the least accessible, least developed regions, or they have been displaced by conflict or natural disaster. Some belong to groups who face discrimination or exclusion, and have little, if any, financial or other resources of their own. Too often, these women and girls have been the last to benefit from infrastructure improvements and other development initiatives. 

Some barriers have less to do with access to services than with dislike or fear of particular contraceptive methods. Women may experience side effects, or worry that their health or ability to breastfeed may be adversely impacted. When women are unhappy with the contraceptive method available to them, they are less likely to use it consistently or at all.[1]

Using interventions that work elsewhere may not reach these underserved groups. As recommended by the Population Council in its publication FP2020: A Research Roadmap, “a clear, accurate accounting of the particular barriers that still prevent the most disadvantaged women and girls from using family planning services is needed, so that effective interventions can be developed to overcome them.”[2] One woman’s circumstances and preferences may differ not only from another’s, but will most likely change over time. Meeting the needs of all women and girls requires us to adapt and innovate family planning products and service delivery strategies. 

FP2020 is predicated on the belief that collaboration is integral to successful innovation. Over the past year, collaborative efforts have produced innovations and price reductions in long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) and other methods. Improvements in distribution and service delivery models will make contraceptives available to more women than ever before. 

New technology will support the timely and successful collection and reporting of high-quality data. New and renewed partnerships among long-established organizations will facilitate outreach to some of the most vulnerable and underserved populations. 

[1] Darroch JE, Sedgh G and Ball H, Contraceptive Technologies: Responding to Women’s Needs, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011.
[2] Population Council, FP2020: A Research Roadmap, New York, 2013.