ICRW to help boost women-controlled contraceptive technologies, family planning, in Africa and Asia

Article Date

10 February 2014

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is a key member of two teams that were recently awarded multi-million dollar cooperative agreements from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health. The awards aim to support the research, development and introduction of women-controlled family planning technologies and to improve fertility awareness in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

With Women Care Global, Population Services International, Every1Mobile, and Evofem, ICRW will be implementing the five-year Expanding Effective Contraceptive Options(EECO) program. EECO will work to meet the needs of women and girls as their sexual and reproductive health concerns change over time, through the introduction of five new woman-controlled contraceptive methods that address common method related concerns and reasons for non-use. These products have the potential to overcome barriers for contraceptive use by millions of women globally including: side effects; use during infrequent sex; use while breast-feeding; and partner opposition. The EECO products include:

  1. NES/EE vaginal ring, a new medium-term hormonal method developed by the Population     Council that lasts for one year and requires no cold chain.
  2. Progesterone vaginal ring, a three-month progestin-only contraceptive method designed by the Population Council especially for use by postpartum women who are breastfeeding.
  3. SILCS Diaphragm, a new type of diaphragm developed by PATH that is easy to use, does not need to be fitted by a clinician, and is reusable for up to three years.
  4. Woman’s Condom, a unique type of female condom developed by PATH to be more acceptable for men and women, and that is easy to insert, use and remove.
  5. Amphora, a safe and effective non-hormonal contraceptive gel developed by EECO team partner Evofem.

The EECO project plans to conduct pilot introductions of these products in India, Malawi and Zambia. ICRW will serve as the program’s research and gender partner, coordinating consumer and provider research focusing on product acceptability and contraceptive decision-making.

ICRW will also work with the Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University, as well as the Population Media Center and Save the Children, on the five-year $19.8 million Fertility Awareness for Community Transformation (FACT) Project, which aims to improve fertility awareness and expand family planning access in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through communicating actionable, life-course-appropriate information about fertility,  enabling individuals and couples to apply this knowledge to their own circumstances and needs. 

ICRW will work with the FACT team to integrate gender considerations into all aspects of the project, which will, in part, contribute to a greater understanding of whether and how expanding access to fertility awareness-based methods allows for greater uptake of family planning and reduces unintended pregnancies.