Futures Group and EngenderHealth Publish New Conceptual Framework Linking Family Planning and Human Rights

The groundswell of enthusiasm for expanding access to voluntary family planning, through FP2020 and other initiatives, provides the environment for tremendous innovation in family planning programming.  The increased attention on family planning has been accompanied by an emphasis on fulfilling the rights of individuals to access family planning. Scaling up access to such services over the next decade will take the combined efforts of governments; donors; and family planning, human rights, and women’s health advocates.

Futures Group and EngenderHealth have combined efforts to launch a new framework to ensure that family planning programs over the next decade reach as many people as possible with life-saving contraception in a way that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights. Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework presents a practical, holistic approach for realizing human rights in the provision of voluntary, high-quality family planning services.

The framework provides a pathway for voluntary family planning programs to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights as they set out to improve health and achieve ambitious family planning goals. This comprehensive framework brings together human rights laws and principles with family planning quality of care frameworks to assist policymakers, program managers, donors, and civil society with program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. This is the first framework to operationalize rights principles and approaches within family planning programming, strongly linking issues of quality of care with human rights. A team from Futures Group, EngenderHealth, and independent consultants developed the framework, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to explore the fundamentals of voluntary family planning and experiences with coercion in sexual and reproductive health programming.

The framework answers a key question, “How can we ensure public health programs oriented toward increasing family planning access and use respect, protect, and fulfill human rights in how they are designed, implemented, and evaluated?” The framework is presented  in a paper that has just been released, which explains how to incorporate  rights principles and approaches directly into family planning programming—using a logic model linking inputs and activities to outputs and outcomes. The framework illustrates what rights-based family planning programs look like, taking into account the broad context in which programs operate, as well as essential programmatic elements necessary for ensuring human rights at the policy, service, community, and individual levels.

This work is supported by reviews of available evidence and tools that can help operationalize family planning programming. The full findings of these reviews can be found in two accompanying papers: Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Evidence and Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Tools.