United Nations Population Fund: Wikis


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Small Flag of the United Nations ZP.svg United Nations Population Fund
Org type Specialised Agency
Acronyms UNFPA
Head Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
Status Active
Established 1969
Website www.unfpa.org

The United Nations Population Fund (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.[1] In 1971 it was placed under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly.[2][3][4]

The UNFPA supports programs in four areas, the Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the sub-Saharan Africa. UNFPA personnel work in more the 140 countries, territories and areas. Around three quarters of the staff work in the field.

Some of the UNFPA's work involves providing supplies and services involving reproductive health. They also encourage participation by young people and women to help rebuild their societies who are affected by poor reproductive health, which expands out into areas such as prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.



The UNFPA works in partnership with other United Nations agencies, governments and communities to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

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-Secretary General of the UN
2000 - present Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
1987 - 2000 Dr. Nafis Sadik (Pakistan)
1969 - 1987 Mr. Rafael M. Salas (Philippines)

Areas of work

UNFPA is the world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programs. The Fund works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 140 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 these needs worldwide, advocates close attention to population problems, and helps needy countries formulate policies and strategies in support of sustainable development. Since 2001, it has been led by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. The Fund is also represented by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors.

Program of Action

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:

  • Universal access to reproductive health services by 2015
  • Universal primary education and closing the gender gap in education by 2015
  • Reducing maternal mortality by seventy-five percent by 2015
  • Reducing infant mortality
  • Increasing life expectancy

These goals were refined in 1999. One of the most important additions concerned HIV:

  • HIV infection rates in persons 15-24 years of age should be reduced by 25 percent in the most-affected countries by 2005 and by 25 percent globally by 2010.

Approach to health care

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/Aids, promoting gender equality, protecting human rights, and securing reproductive health supplies; throughout all this they use a culturally sensitive approach. Their major countries in need are third world countries who deal with these major problems.

Example projects

Campaign to End Fistula

  • This UNFPA-led global campaign works to prevent obstetric fistula, a devastating and socially isolating injury of childbirth, to treat women who live with the condition and help those who have been treated to return to their communities. The campaign works in more than 40 countries in Africa, the Arab States and South Asia.

Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

  • UNFPA has worked for many years to end the practice of female genital mutilation (sometimes called female circumcision), the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons. The practice, which affects 100-140 million women and girls across the world, violates their right to health and bodily integrity. In 2007, UNFPA in partnership with UNICEF, launched a $44-million program to reduce the practice by 40 per cent in 16 countries by 2015 and to end it within a generation. UNFPA also recently sponsored a Global Technical Consultation, which drew experts from all over the world to discuss strategies to convince communities to abandon the practice.

Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network)

  • This umbrella organization, which was piloted by UNFPA to address the AIDS epidemic among young people, supports hundreds of peer education projects in more than 20 countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Arab States. It seeks to bring common standards of excellence to a wide variety of peer-to-peer activities, by providing training, training manuals, an extensive website for sharing knowledge and experience, and many other resources.


  • A successful UNFPA program which carried out three specific maternal mortality reduction projects that focused on the construction and renovation and equipping of health centers & rural maternity units.


  • Through interagency team work, the country was enabled to build and provide seven new community health centres in three areas plus one new maternity unit.

Relations with the U.S. government

The 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.[5]

The 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. The UNFPA was not found directly involved in the scandal, but continued to fund and work with the population control program after the abuses had become public. [6] The issue played a role in the Bush administration's controversial decision in 2002 to cut off funding for the organization. [7]

From 2002 through 2008, the Bush Administration denied funding to UNFPA that had already been allocated by the U.S. 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 or support abortions overseas.[8]

UNFPA claims that it "does not provide support for abortion services".[9] Its charter includes a strong statement condemning coercion.".[10]

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. [11]. 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 [12].

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.[13]

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. [14] "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. [15]

President Bush denied funding to the UNFPA. [16] 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 845.3 million US$, 118 million US$ were donated by the Netherlands, 67 million US$ by Sweden, 62 million US$ by Norway, 54 US$ by Denmark, 53 million US$ by the UK, 52 million US$ by Spain, and (remarkable for the size of the country) 19 million US$ by Luxembourg. The European Commission donated further 36 million US$. The most important non-European donor State was Japan (36 million US$).

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 of 2009 President Barack Obama restored U.S. funding to UNFPA, saying in a public statement that he would "look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. 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." [17] [18]

See also


External links

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