Family planning encompasses the services, policies, information, attitudes, practices, and commodities, including contraceptives, that give women, men, couples, and adolescents the ability to avoid unintended pregnancy and choose whether and/or when to have a child. In this commentary, we outline family planning’s links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlight the transformational benefits that voluntary family planning brings to women, families, communities, and countries. We present family planning as a cross-sectoral intervention that can hasten progress across the 5 SDG themes of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. We particularly stress family planning’s:
- Link to human rights, gender equality, and empowerment
- Impact on maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health
- Role in shaping economic development and environmental and political futures
Accelerating progress in these areas is critical for SDG achievement.
We set forth evidence on ways that family planning can influence SDG achievement. At times, the evidence is strong; at other times, less so. Our hope is that the evidence gaps will motivate researchers to address unanswered questions. Most importantly, we hope that the evidence presented here leads to action at the international and country level—to fully support organized, voluntary family planning in the public and private commercial sectors, as well as through civil society.