India's national family welfare program has two objectives—to address the needs of families, notably women and children, and to reduce population growth rates. In reality, the program has been disproportionately focused on achieving demographic targets by increasing contraceptive prevalence. In this process, women's needs have been overlooked, in terms of poor reproductive health (RH). There is a need to reorient program priorities to focus more holistically on RH needs and on woman-based services that respond to health needs in ways sensitive to the sociocultural constraints women and adolescent girls face in acquiring services and expressing health needs. This report presents a profile of substantive needs in the area of women's RH. It contains a brief overview of the demographic situation and the thrust of the program in India, points out gender disparities and constraints women face in acquiring quality health services, focuses on the RH situation and highlights the gaps between needs and available services, and sets out priorities for policy. It raises the need for greater attention to RH and services that are more focused on women, both adult and adolescent, in India, and discusses activities appropriate for further support.
Jejeebhoy, Shireen J. 1995. "Addressing women's reproductive health needs: Priorities for the Family Welfare Programme," Asia and Near East OR/TA Project Special Report. New Delhi: Population Council.
Asia & Near East Operations Research and Technical Assistance Project