Indicator 44. Met demand for family planning (modified MDG Indicator)

Rationale and definition:

This indicator tracks the proportion of demand for family planning which has been satisfied. It is the percentage of women (or their partners) who desire either to have no further children or to postpone the next child and who are currently using a modern contraceptive method.

This is now a broadly accepted indicator that reflects both “the extent to which partners, communities and health systems support women in acting on their choices, and monitors whether women’s stated desires regarding contraception are being fulfilled. It calls attention to inequities in service access and is therefore used to promote a human rights-based approach to reproductive health.”1 Women have the right to determine whether or not to have children, as well as the number and spacing of their pregnancies, and family planning is a key dimension of access to reproductive health. In less developed countries, between one-fourth and one fifth of pregnancies are unintended.2


By age, income quintile, marital status, urban/rural, ethnicity, etc.

Comments and limitations:

This indicator is an improvement over the MDG Indicator on unmet need because it is more easily understood and is linearly correlated with contraceptive prevalence. The indicator is calculated as a percentage of all women of reproductive age who are married or in a union,3 so it does not include adolescents who are sexually active. This is a key omission since cultural norms and/or lack of sex education may prohibit sexually active adolescents from exercising their right to reproductive health services.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Household surveys.

Potential lead agency or agencies:

UNFPA and the UN Population Division collect data for this survey- based indicator.