Family planning as a concept gained new meaning and scope in the 1990s. It enlarged its focus from maternal and child health to include a broader life cycle perspective. These changes stemmed from learning and experience across the world, articulated in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.
The outcome was the emergence of a perspective on family planning that was gender friendly and rights based. The approaches to match this altered perspective included:
- Focus on unmet needs
- Prevention and management of RTI/STIs
- Prevention and management of unwanted pregnancies
- Focus on ensuring availability and utilization of services
- Focus on underserved and neglected populations
- Client satisfaction, quality of care, quality of family planning services
- Safe motherhood and survival
- A target free approach
Change in name
Keeping abreast with the times, the Family Planning Foundation changed its name to Population Foundation of India in 1993. The change represented a clear shift from the Foundation’s earlier demographic goal of supporting activities aimed at reducing population growth to supporting activities aimed at improving the quality of their life. In its new avatar, it expanded its thrust area to work more among backward areas, urban slums and rural communities.
Women’s empowerment becomes a focus area
Further, with the introduction of the 73rd Amendment Act in 1993 which provided constitutional status to panchayats, it started working on training panchayat representatives on issues of reproductive health, family planning, maternal and child health and nutrition. In addition, women’s empowerment became a focus and programmes on adolescent and young people a priority.
During, the Nineties, PFI built on its existing strengths while incorporating new perspectives and strategies. Its advocacy at the national level continued as did its effort to engage with the corporate sector. Some key efforts:
- Submission of a memorandum to the Prime Minister urging the government to increase allocations and concentrate efforts in selected populous north Indian states and freeze the number of seats in the Lok Sabhatill population stabilized.
- Seminars for Members of Parliament for building political commitment to population programmes.
- Initiation of a lecture series entitled Encounter with Population Crisis (1990-1994); the inaugural lecture was by Nobel Laureate Dr Norman E Borlaug.
- Addresses at seminars organized by FICCI and PHD Chambers of Commerce and Industry Development.
Integrating health and development
PFI started focusing on integrated health and development projects. This came with the realization that sustainability was dependent on inclusion of project components which would integrate social and economic development with reproductive health behavior. Male involvement in family planning was also promoted.
The JRD Tata Memorial Lecture and Awards
PFI lost its Founder Board Chairman Mr JRD Tata in 1993. With his passing, PFI lost a great visionary leader and its strongest advocate. His vision of “advancing the cause of human welfare through family planning” was however kept alive by PFI. In his memory, PFI launched the JRD Tata Memorial Oration Lecture Series in 1995 and the JRD Tata Awards in 1997 for the best performing states and districts in the field of reproductive health.
The decade ended on a positive note with promising policy developments on the issue of population in the pipeline