The project launched on September 26, 2015, World Contraception Day — an annual event that focuses international attention on enabling young people to make informed decisions about family planning and reproductive health. Three rounds are planned: 2016, 2017 and 2019.

Each project year, nominations of young family planning champions wil be accepted. In order to be eligible, nominees must be 40 years or younger by December 31 of the project year, and must have made significant contributions to family planning at the local, national, or international level in one of the following categories: advocacy, programming/program implementation, research, service delivery, demand generation, policy/government or media.

Each nominee has a profile on, which outlines their achievements and contributions to the field. The winners are chosen from this pool of nominees by the public, via online voting, and by a jury of experts and leaders in family planning, via scoring. After online voting and jury review close, the project secretariat combines the scores and determines the 40 winners, all of whom receive $1,000 from the Gates Institute to continue their work in family planning and/or begin innovative new projects.

The winners are announced in September. In 2016 and 2017, a smaller representative group of winners were invited to attend the 120 Under 40 celebrations, held in September in the United States. In 2019, 2016 and 2017 winners and 2019 nominees are invited to apply to attend the new Bill & Melinda Gates Institute Leadership Accelerator. Each project year officially wraps up on World Contraception Day, September 26.

The process will take place in 2016, 2017 and 2019, so that a roster of 120 outstanding young leaders will be assembled by 2020 — the year by which the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to enable 120 million additional women and girls to access life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies.

120 Under 40 shines a light on the “positive disruptions” made by young leaders in family planning, enabling others to model their behavior and build on their success. The project’s international profile will increase awareness of family planning as critical to young people’s health and well-being and essential to sustainable global development.

120 Under 40 is organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with sponsorship from Bayer.



120 Under 40 is a project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with support from Bayer
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