About UNFPA

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Our Mission

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person's potential is fulfilled.

Meeting Development Goals

UNFPA partners with governments, other agencies and civil society to advance UNFPA's mission. Two frameworks guide its efforts: the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and the Millennium Development Goals, eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015. Since the date for achieving these goals and targets is fast approaching, work is being accelerated to analyze successes, to galvanize support and to redouble efforts. UNFPA is involved in the Beyond 2014 Review to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in the creation of a renewed consensus and global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world. 

UNFPA Goals

The goals of UNFPA - achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health (including family planning), promoting reproductive rights, reducing maternal mortality and accelerating progress on the ICPD agenda and MDG 5 - are inextricably linked. UNFPA also focuses on improving the lives of youths and women by advocating for human rights and gender equality and by promoting the understanding of population dynamics. Population dynamics, including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality and migration have an effect on every aspect of human, social and economic progress. And sexual and reproductive health and women's empowerment all powerfully affect and are influenced by population trends.

Population and development strategies

As the world population edged to 7 billion people in 2011 (up from 2.5 billion in 1950), it has had profound implications for development. Governments need to gather adequate information about population dynamics and trends to create and manage sound policies and generate the political will to address both current and future human needs. UNFPA supports governments in these tasks, including censuses, surveys and population and development-related research and analysis. Key areas of focus include migration, ageing, climate change and urbanization.

Sexual and reproductive health

Working with a range of partners, UNFPA assists governments in delivering sexual and reproductive health care throughout the life cycle of women and youths. These areas include:

  • Voluntary family planning
  • Antenatal, safe delivery and post-natal care
  • Prevention of abortion and management of its consequences
  • Treatment of reproductive-tract infections
  • Prevention, care and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
  • Information, education and counselling, as appropriate, on human sexuality and reproductive health
  • Prevention of violence against women, care for survivors of violence and other actions to eliminate traditional harmful practices
  • Appropriate referrals for further diagnosis and management of the above.

Improving maternal health, MDG5, is a key UNFPA priority and the MDG target lagging the most. Important UNFPA initiatives 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 quality reproductive health supplies of their choice whenever they need them. This is the aim of the UNFPA-led Global Programme on Reproductive Health Commodity Security. Expanding access to reproductive health care also relies on skilled midwives and other health-care workers.

Family Planning

Some 222 million women worldwide who would like to avoid or delay a pregnancy lack access to effective contraception. Fulfilling this unmet need for modern family planning in the developing world would reduce unintended pregnancies to 22 million from 75 million. UNFPA advocates for the right of all people to voluntarily decide the number and timing of their children. It supports programmes that improve access to and affordability of family planning services, offer a broad selection of choices, reflect high standards of care, are sensitive to cultural conditions, provide sufficient information about their use and address other reproductive health needs of women.

Gender equality and women's empowerment

The importance of gender equality and women's empowerment to development progress is underscored by its inclusion as one of the Millennium Development Goals. In fact, gender equality drives all the MDGs and is intimately linked and connected to goals to improve maternal and newborn health and reduce the spread of HIV.

UNFPA's gender framework incorporates four strategies that address critical factors behind inequalities and rights violations: girls' education, women's economic empowerment, women's political participation and  balancing reproductive and productive roles.

UNFPA also 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/cutting as well as pre-natal sex selection. UNFPA also raises awareness of women's strengths, vulnerabilities and needs in a variety of situations and issues, such as humanitarian emergencies, climate change and migration. It recognizes the rights, perspectives and influences of men and boys and seeks to involve them in promoting gender equality and improving reproductive health.

 

Broader Concerns

Promoting and protecting fundamental human rights, including reproductive rights, lie at the core of UNFPA activities. That is why the Fund places priority on reaching those with the greatest needs, whether it be related to poverty, marginalization, emergencies, age, sex, ethnicity or health.

Culturally sensitive human rights-based approaches

A strong emphasis on the human rights, including reproductive rights, of individual women and men underpins all of UNFPA's work. Promoting and protecting human rights, including reproductive rights, of women and men requires considerable cultural fluency as 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 its programmes. In doing so, it has worked closely within communities and with local agents of change, including religious leaders and faith-based organizations.

Supporting adolescents and youth

About one-quarter of the world's people is between 10 to 24 years old. UNFPA promotes and protects the rights of this important generation, particularly adolescent girls, and strives to achieve a world in which girls and boys have the best opportunities to develop their full potential, to express themselves freely, to have their views respected and to live free of HIV, poverty, discrimination and violence.

UNFPA's four keys to ensuring 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.

Responding to the AIDS epidemic

UNFPA's contribution to the global response to AIDS reflects 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 the linking and integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV policies, programmes and services. UNFPA ensures 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.

Assisting in emergencies

In times of upheaval and conflicts, 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. Too often, the special needs of women and young people are overlooked in humanitarian emergencies.

Within the coordinated interagency response to disasters, UNFPA takes the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health, emphasizing the special needs and vulnerabilities of women and young people. Both groups can figure prominently in rebuilding peace or communities.

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 stage and enter the reconstruction phase.

How We Work

UNFPA partners with governments, other United Nations agencies, communities, NGOs, foundations and the private sector to raise awareness and mobilize the support and resources to achieve its mission. The Fund is fully committed to a more effective, coherent and better coordinated UN system that 'delivers as one,' the essence of the UN reform process.

Starting in 2007, UNFPA decentralized its operations to become a more field-centred, efficient and strategic partner to the countries it serves. To do so, it established five regional and six subregional offices in the field that help coordinate work in about 150 countries, areas and territories through 129 country offices.

Donor contributions to UNFPA and other income in 2010 reached a record $870 million, up from $783 million a year earlier. Twenty-one donors each made contributions exceeding $1 million. The contribution from the Netherlands—UNFPA’s largest donor in 2010—totaled more than $119 million.