50 Years of Population Foundation of India
In the first decade, Family Planning Foundation (FPF), focused on research and building knowledge on India’s changing demographics to support policymaking and programme planning. The organisation’s objective was to promote family planning as a means of economic and social well-being of the family. Significant progress was made in biomedical research, with focus on contraception for women, and also men.
FPF used communication such as publications, seminars and films to engage with and inform policy makers and political leaders. In 1978, FPF produced a National Award-winning film ‘Parvati’ to highlight the benefits of family planning.
Family Planning Foundation brought attention towards an integrated approach to family planning – focusing on reducing infant and maternal mortality. Ensuring people’s rights to sexual and reproductive health and choices were part of the new discourse.
The organisation continued to expand knowledge on family planning through a five-state diagnostic research study on population growth and development. Studies on implications of infant mortality on fertility rates, and a report on benefits of incentives were also commissioned.
Family Planning Foundation became Population Foundation of India in 1993 in keeping with its changing mission, from supporting a reduction in population growth to actively championing improvement in quality of life for India’s people.
JRD Tata, founder of Population Foundation of India was conferred the prestigious UN Population Award in 1992 in recognition of his work on the issue of population and development. The JRD Tata Memorial Awards and Oration was instituted in 1993 in memory of our founder. The Awards are given for the best performing states and districts in the field of reproductive health, while the Oration is a lecture series on population issues.
Population Foundation of India pushed for increasing allocations for population stabilisation, focusing on health and education, and a renewed look at India’s north-eastern states. The organisation advocated a life cycle approach to family planning for sustainable social development. We were also responsible for training panchayat (village self-governance institution) representatives on issues of reproductive health and family planning.
In the first decade of the 2000s, Population Foundation of India grew in its scope – there was increasing interface with the government and an expanded reach across the country. Population Foundation of India played a crucial role in the formulation of the national and state level population policies, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
In response to new realities, Population Foundation of India’s work was expanded to include gender, HIV/AIDS, urban health and scaling up. In 2004, for the first time, the organisation moved to implementation in the district and lower levels through advocacy and communication on issues of missing girls, quality of care in reproductive health services and law, policy and rights. In 2005 the government set up the Advisory Group on Community Action (AGCA) to support and advise the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on community monitoring under the National Rural Health Mission. The secretariat of the AGCA was housed in PFI and continues to be so even today.
Family planning was now widely recognised as a function of overall social development, no longer limited only to population stabilisation. PFI began to address population issues within the larger discourse of health and rights of women.
Population Foundation of India’s focused engagement with policymakers in the wake of the maternal deaths in Barwani in 2010 and sterilisation deaths in Bilaspur in 2014 also showcased its evidence-based advocacy. Population Foundation of India moved towards using new approaches like entertainment education and outreach with communities to further positively influence people, launching its flagship transmedia initiative Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH – I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything) in 2014.
Today, Population Foundation of India works at the individual, social and policy level to create an enabling policy environment for girls and women to claim their rights, young people to be involved in demanding and supporting efficient and accountable governance, and informed policymakers. We work closely with national and state governments to support and strengthen our national plans and programmes.
There is a renewed focus on the needs and aspirations of young people, recognising that providing them with information to make correct decisions regarding their health and wellbeing is critical. The social and behaviour change communication programmes at Population Foundation of India use innovative technology, including an artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot, to reach young people and women in entertaining and informative ways.