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United Nations Population Fund
|Head||Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin|
|Headquarters||New York City, USA|
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses. The data generated are used to create programmes to reduce poverty and address issues concerning the rights of particular minority population groups. One of their aims is to ensure that "every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect" . Their work involves the improvement of reproductive health; including creation of national strategies and protocols, and providing supplies and services to these minority groups, as well as internal migrants and refugees, the elderly and the handicapped. The organization has recently been known for its worldwide campaign against obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation.
The UNFPA supports programs in more than 150 countries, territories and areas spread across four geographic regions: Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa. Around three quarters of the staff work in the field. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.
The UNFPA began operations in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (the name was changed in 1987) under the administration of the United Nations Development Fund. In 1971 it was placed under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly.
Its stated mission is to promote the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of "health and equal opportunity." UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs to "reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect." The agency’s main goals are:
Executive Directors and Under-Secretaries General of the UN
2011–present Dr Babatunde Osotimehin (Nigeria)
2000–2010 Ms Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Saudi Arabia)
1987–2000 Dr Nafis Sadik (Pakistan)
1969–87 Mr Rafael M. Salas (Philippines)
UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of funding for population and reproductive health programs. The Fund works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 150 countries with the support of the international community, supporting programs that help women, men and young people:
According to UNFPA these elements promote the right of "reproductive health", that is physical, mental, and social health in matters related to reproduction and the reproductive system.
The Fund raises awareness of and supports efforts to meet these needs in developing countries, advocates close attention to population concerns, and helps developing nations formulate policies and strategies in support of sustainable development. Dr. Osotimehin assumed leadership in January 2011. The Fund is also represented by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors and a Patron.
UNFPA's work is guided by the Program of Action adopted by 179 governments at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The conference agreed that meeting people's needs for education and health, including reproductive health, is a prerequisite of sustainable development.
The main goals of the Program of Action are:
These goals were refined in 1999. One of the most important additions concerned HIV:
The Fund promotes a holistic approach to reproductive health care that includes access to a range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods and to sensitive counseling; prenatal care, attended deliveries, emergency obstetric care and post-natal care; and prevention of sexually transmitted infections by promoting safer sexual behavior.
UNFPA looks to improve the lives and expand the choices of individuals and couples because, according to UNFPA, in time the reproductive choices, multiplied across communities and countries, affect population construction and trends.
The work of the agency revolves around improving reproductive health, making motherhood safer, supporting adolescence and youth, preventing HIV and AIDS, promoting gender equality, protecting human rights, and securing reproductive health supplies; throughout all this they use a culturally sensitive approach. Their assistance is in developing countries which receive help in accordance with their priorities for development.
UNFPA works in partnership with governments, as well as with other agencies and civil society broadly, to advance its mission. Two frameworks serve to focus its efforts: The Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development and the Millennium Development Goals, which the international development community committed itself to six years later. Because the dates for achievement of these interconnected sets of goals and related targets are fast approaching, considerable work has been done in analyzing what has worked, and to galvanize support and a redoubling of efforts.
The three core areas of UNFPA’s work – reproductive health, gender equality and population and development strategies – are inextricably related. Population dynamics, including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality, migration and more, influence every aspect of human, social and economic development. Reproductive health and women's empowerment powerfully affect, and are affected by, population trends.
The fact that world population is edging toward 7 billion people (up from 2.5 billion in 1950), with almost all of the growth expected to occur in the cities of less developed countries, has profound implications for the development process. Governments need to be able to gather adequate information about population dynamics and trends in order to create and manage sound policies and generate the political will to appropriately address both current and future needs. UNFPA assists countries in every aspect of this task, from developing capacity in data collection and analysis to participating in national, regional and global policy dialogue. Key areas of focus include migration, ageing, climate change and urbanization.
Working with a wide range of partners, UNFPA assists governments in delivering sexual and reproductive health care throughout the lifecycle of women. Areas of assistance include:
Improving maternal health, MDG5, is a key priority for UNFPA and the goal which lags farthest behind. Key initiatives in this area include the Maternal Health Thematic Fund, the Campaign to End Fistula and numerous partnerships. The importance of universal access to reproductive health is underscored by the fact that it was added as an MDG target by the international community in 2005.
Access to reproductive health care also demands what UNFPA calls reproductive health commodity security, the ability for all individuals to obtain and use affordable, quality reproductive health supplies of their choice whenever they need them. This is the aim of the Global Programme on Reproductive Health Commodity Security, which UNFPA spearheads.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment
The importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment to development progress is underscored by the fact that this was selected as one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Beyond being a goal in itself, gender equality is also a driver for all the MDGs, and is intimately linked and specifically connected to goals to improve maternal and newborn health and reduce the spread of HIV.
UNFPA’s gender framework incorporates four strategic linkages that address critical factors underlying inequalities and rights violations: girls’ education, women’s economic empowerment, women’s political participation and the balancing of reproductive and productive roles.
The Fund brings gender issues to wider attention, and promotes legal and policy reforms and gender-sensitive data collection. It works to end gender-based violence, including traditional practices that harm women, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. It also raises awareness of women’s specific strengths, vulnerabilities and needs in relation to a variety of issues, such as humanitarian emergencies, climate change and migration. UNFPA also recognizes the rights, perspectives and influence of men and boys, and seeks to involve them in efforts to promote gender equality and improve reproductive health.
Promoting and protecting fundamental human rights, including reproductive rights, are at the core of all UNFPA programming. This is one of the reasons the Fund places priority on reaching those in the greatest need, whether because of poverty, marginalization, emergencies, age, sex, ethnicity or health status.
A strong emphasis on the human rights, including reproductive rights, of individual women and men underpins all of UNFPA’s work and its way of working.
Promoting and protecting these rights requires considerable cultural fluency because UNFPA works in some of the most sensitive and intimate spheres of human existence, including sexuality, gender relations and population issues. Since 2002, UNFPA has emphasized the integration of culturally sensitive approaches into programming efforts. Toward this end, it has worked closely within communities and with local agents of change, including religious leaders and faith-based organizations.
More than a quarter of the world’s population – some 1.8 billion people – are between the ages of 10 and 24. UNFPA promotes and protects the rights of this important generation of young people, and works towards a world in which girls and boys have optimal opportunities to develop their full potential, to freely express themselves and have their views respected, and to live free of poverty, discrimination and violence.
UNFPA’s 'four keys' to opening up opportunities for young people include incorporating youth issues into national development and poverty reduction strategies; expanding access to gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health education that encourages the development of life skills; promoting a core package of health services and commodities for young people; and encouraging youth leadership and participation.
The contribution of UNFPA to the global response to AIDS is shaped by its mandate to reduce poverty, eliminate gender inequality and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health.
As a co-sponsor of UNAIDS and under the UNAIDS division of labour, UNFPA focuses its response on HIV prevention among young people, women and marginalized groups, including within the context of sex work. It supports comprehensive programming for male and female condoms and advocates for the linking and integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV policies, programmes and services. It aims to make sure that family planning and maternal health services meet the needs of women living with HIV. This includes interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission and support for confidential voluntary HIV testing and counselling.
UNFPA also works in many contexts, including humanitarian and post-conflict situations, toward the elimination of gender-based violence and prevention of HIV.
In times of upheaval, pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar. Reproductive health and obstetric services often become unavailable. Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation. Within the coordinated, inter-agency response to disasters, UNFPA moves quickly when emergency strikes. The Fund takes the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health, with an emphasis on the special needs and vulnerabilities of women and young people.
UNFPA supports various data collection activities, including censuses to provide detailed information for planning and rapid health assessments to allow for appropriate, effective and efficient relief. It also assists stricken communities as they move beyond the acute crisis and enter the reconstruction phase.
UNFPA works in partnership with governments, along with other United Nations agencies, communities, NGOs, foundations and the private sector to raise awareness and mobilize the support and resources needed to achieve its mission. The Fund is fully committed to a more effective, coherent and better coordinated United Nations system that ‘delivers as one’, which is the essence of the ongoing United Nations reform process.
Since 2007, UNFPA has decentralized its operations as a way to become a more field-centred, efficient and strategic partner to the countries it serves. Toward this end, it established five regional and six sub-regional offices in the field that help coordinate work in about 150 countries, areas and territories through a network of 129 country offices.
UNFPA’s income in 2009 totaled $783.1 million, including $469.4 million in voluntary contributions from governments and private donors.
UNFPA has been accused by different groups of providing support for government programs which have promoted forced-abortions and coercive sterilizations. Controversies regarding these allegations have resulted in a sometimes shaky relationship between the organization and the United States government, with three presidential administrations, that of Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and George W. Bush withholding funding from the UNFPA.
UNFPA provided aid to Peru's population control program in the mid-to-late '90s. When it was discovered the Peruvian program had been engaged in carrying out coercive sterilizations, UNFPA called for reforms and protocols to protect the rights of women seeking assistance. UNFPA was not found directly involved in the scandal, but continued work with the family planning program after the abuses had become public to end the abuses and reform laws and practices.
From 2002 through 2008, the Bush Administration denied funding to UNFPA that had already been allocated by the US Congress, partly on the grounds that the UNFPA supported Chinese government programs which include forced abortions and coercive sterilizations. In a letter from the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns to Congress, the administration said it had determined that UNFPA’s support for China’s population program “facilitates (its) government’s coercive abortion program”, thus violating the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which bans the use of United States aid to finance organizations that support or take part in managing a program of coercive abortion of sterilization.
UNFPA's connection to China's administration of forced abortions was disputed by investigations carried out by various US, UK, and UN teams sent to examine UNFPA activities in China. Specifically, a three-person U.S State Department fact-finding team was sent on a two week tour throughout China. It wrote in a report to the State Department that it found "no evidence that UNFPA has supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China," as has been charged by critics.
However, according to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, the UNFPA contributed vehicles and computers to the Chinese to carry out their population control policies. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), criticized the State Department investigation, saying the investigators were shown "Potemkin Villages" where residents had been intimidated into lying about the family-planning program. Dr. Nafis Sadik, former director of UNFPA said her agency had been pivotal in reversing China's coercive population control methods, but a 2005 report by Amnesty International and a separate report by the United States State Department found that coercive techniques were still regularly employed by the Chinese, casting doubt upon Sadik's statements.
A 2001 study conducted by the pro-life Population Research Institute (PRI) claimed that the UNFPA shared an office with the Chinese family planning officials who were carrying out forced abortions. "We located the family planning offices, and in that family planning office, we located the UNFPA office, and we confirmed from family planning officials there that there is no distinction between what the UNFPA does and what the Chinese Family Planning Office does," said Scott Weinberg, a spokesman for PRI.
President Bush denied funding to the UNFPA. Over the course of the Bush Administration, a total of $244 million in Congressionally approved funding was blocked by the Executive Branch.
In response, the EU decided to fill the gap left behind by the US under the Sandbaek report. According to its Annual Report for 2008, the UNFPA received its funding mainly from European Governments: Of the total income of M845.3 M, $118 was donated by the Netherlands, $67 M by Sweden, $62 M by Norway, $54 M by Denmark, $53 M by the UK, $52 M by Spain, $19 M by Luxembourg. The European Commission donated further $36 M. The most important non-European donor State was Japan ($36 M). The number of donors exceeded 180 in one year.
In America, nonprofit organizations like Americans for UNFPA worked to compensate for the loss of United States federal funding by raising private donations.
In January 2009 President Barack Obama restored US funding to UNFPA, saying in a public statement that he would "look forward to working with Congress to restore US financial support for the UN Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the US will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries." 
Entities with competencies about population in the United Nations :