#FundUNFPA to Support Women and Girls Around the World
In 1994, the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) held the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. The idea of population shifted from demographic trends and numbers to individuals that have a right to determine and plan their family size. Ensuring the empowerment of women and girls around the world became the resulting plan of action. Sarah Craven, the Washington representative for UNFPA, talks to us about the ideal family planning scenario around the world; every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person can live their life with full potential.
How can we achieve this standard? UNFPA has three specific goals it addresses: 1) meeting unmet need for family planning; 2) ending preventable maternal deaths; 3) ending gender-based violence and other harmful practices.
Family planning is central to women’s empowerment and development. More than 214 million women who want to plan their families and their births don’t have access to contraception. UNFPA works to provide those resources and meet the unmet need. By providing commodities like birth control and condoms, those who need these family planning initiatives receive the resources and the education of knowing these contraceptives exist and are accessible.
In rural areas, women are often subject to preventable maternal deaths. This may be due to lack of access to contraception and family planning services, skilled birth attendants, or medical professionals who have knowledge of obstructive labors.
1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence, and 1 in 4 girls will get married before the age of 18. UNFPA works with policy makers, judicial systems, health systems and other humanitarian groups like UNICEF, in an attempt to eradicate gender-based violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting.
Since the change in administration in the United States, UNFPA has experienced a loss of political and financial support from the United States. UNFPA works in 150 countries providing a range of sexual and reproductive health services including: family planning, midwife training, prenatal care and safe childbirth, and programs to end child marriage and female genital cutting. The U.S. was the fourth largest donor to UNFPA and the loss of U.S. funding could mean the loss of services to 10.5 million women and girls.
Beyond these services UNFPA is on the frontlines in humanitarian crises and UNFPA’s work in humanitarian settings will be one of the areas hardest hit by the U.S. funding prohibition. In 2016 with U.S. funding UNFPA reached 9 million people in crisis settings with sexual and reproductive health care. Losing U.S. funding will put the lives of women and girls around the world at risk.
Photo courtesy of UNFPA