Today’s biggest challenge: constraints on family planning organisations

At a global level, the biggest constraint on the success of organisations meeting the need for contraceptive access is funding. Many NGOs rely on funding from specific governments to provide sexual and reproductive health services to families in the world’s poorest nations – leaving them at the mercy of the rich nations’ attitudes towards contraception.

For example, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) is the world’s largest non-governmental provider of contraception. Established in India in 1952, the organisation has grown to provide over 70 million contraceptive services every year all over the world. The IPPF is reliant on funding from the US and Canadian Governments, in addition to funding from the European Union and United Nations Special Projects Fund. As a consequence, the IPPF (and other NGOs) is particularly vulnerable to changes in domestic policy that result in international funding cuts.

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In 2017, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the “Global Gag Rule”, alternatively known as the “Mexico City Policy”. This rule states that foreign aid provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) may no longer be given to organisations that provide contraceptive or abortion services. Driven by conservative politics, this law has not existed since President George W. Bush’s administration. With an annual budget of $27.2 billion USD, the USAID is one of the biggest providers of international humanitarian funding in the world.

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As a consequence of the Global Gag Rule, IPPF will lose $100 million USD for the vital health service provided for the millions of young women who would otherwise go without access to contraception.

But the IPPF is not alone. The Global Gag Rule’s devastating consequences were felt all around the world when it was first implemented in the years 2001-2009. For example, Zambia’s primary private family planning service – the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia – lost 40 percent of their staff due to the withdrawal of USAID funding. This had devastating effects, in particularly hindering HIV prevention efforts.

As an indicator of this movement’s reliance on foreign aid funding, the Global Gag Rule’s far-reaching effects are revealing. With threats to funding, the need for individual contributions has never been more apparent.

Read our final blog post to learn about what you can do to help.


  1. Engender Health Organisation, Access Denied: The Impact of the Globla Gag Rule in Zambia (2006). Retrieved from:
  2. International Planned Parenthood Foundation, Access via:
  3. United States Agency for International Development, Access via:



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