from Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program and Women and Foreign Policy Program

Family Planning and U.S. Foreign Policy

Ensuring U.S. Leadership for Healthy Families and Communities and Prosperous, Stable Societies

Report

More on:

Maternal and Child Health

Health Policy and Initiatives

Women and Women's Rights

Overview

Women today are recognized as critical to reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and agricultural productivity, promoting environmental sustainability, and raising healthy and well-educated children—steps that are imperative to confronting myriad pressing foreign policy challenges around the globe. Investments in international voluntary family planning programs give women the tools to make important decisions about the size of their families and the spacing of their pregnancies, better enabling them to be linchpins of positive change in their communities. An increased prioritization of family planning has the additional benefit of strengthening U.S. foreign policy priorities as they relate to economic development, international security, and environmental sustainability.

Isobel Coleman

Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

Given its centrality to many pressing foreign policy issues and its demonstrated high return on investment, international family planning is an area of assistance that deserves greater priority. The report recommends that the United States expand its leadership role in creating healthy, resilient families in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world as a critical objective of U.S. foreign policy. While there are many important components of that vision, international family planning should be a main aspect. The U.S. government should prioritize family planning in U.S. foreign policy, increase U.S. funding for voluntary international family planning, increase access to family planning services, encourage support for women's health within countries receiving aid, and expand resources into countries with highest unmet need.

More on:

Maternal and Child Health

Health Policy and Initiatives

Women and Women's Rights

Top Stories on CFR

Saudi Arabia

The United States should draw a distinction between Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince.

Venezuela

Bankrolling the region’s biggest humanitarian disaster won’t win Beijing many friends.

Italy

Italy’s populist government has relished defying the European Union, and its latest showdown with Brussels could threaten the continent’s fragile recovery—and the global economy.