Global Youth Family Planning Index
Governments around the world have made great strides in creating policies that support the health and human rights of young people. Increasingly, countries have institutionalized the rights of adolescents and young people to access health services, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH), within formal laws and policies. Statements by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Health Organization (WHO), and others have underscored the urgency for international organizations and governments to ensure that all young people have informed choice and full access to contraceptives.1
Despite growing commitment from decision-makers, many barriers remain for young people who want to use contraception. A limited evidence base has hampered systematic assessment and mapping of the key policies and programs that govern young people’s ability to access family planning (FP) information, services, and commodities. Governments and their partners lack clear guidance on supporting interventions that ensure their commitments to expanding FP use among young people are realized. Similarly, civil society needs to establish monitoring efforts to understand how countries address the needs of youth in their laws and policies and to identify areas for improvement.
To address this evidence gap, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has developed a “Global Youth Family Planning Index” to measure and compare countries’ youth FP policies and programming. The index compiles and analyzes the evidence that identifies the most effective national policies and program interventions to promote uptake of contraception among youth, defined as people between the ages of 15 and 24. This report details the purpose of the new index, describes its methodology and indicator selection process, and summarizes results for nine countries.
In the index the term “family planning” refers to contraception and related services, as is common among advocates. However, the term “family planning” is less useful when considering youth’s unique reproductive health needs, since many young people have not yet begun planning a family, although they do need access to contraception. The index uses the terms FP and contraception interchangeably.
The index is designed to allow quick assessment of the extent to which a country’s policy environment enables and supports youth access to and use of FP by promoting evidence-based practices. The index can be used by governments, donors, and advocates to:
- Evaluate the inclusion of evidence-based interventions and policy language shown to reduce barriers and/or increase youth access to contraception in countries’ policies.
- Set policy priorities and guide future commitments based on gaps and areas of weakness identified by the index.
- Compare policy environments across countries.
The index evaluates the status of existing youth FP policies reflected in official government documents. Policies are understood to be government-authored laws, regulations, and strategies to set priorities and/or achieve a particular objective. Specifically, the index assesses a country’s policy framework (constitutions, laws, reproductive health acts, etc.) and programmatic guidelines (FP costed implementation plans, adolescent health strategies, youth development plans, etc.) that impact youth FP.