Reproductive health is a lifetime concern for both women and men, from infancy to old age. UNFPA supports programming tailored to the different challenges they face at different times in life.
In many cultures, the discrimination against girls and women that begins in infancy can determine the trajectory of their lives. The important issues of education and appropriate health care arise in childhood and adolescence. These continue to be issues in the reproductive years, along with family planning, sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive tract infections, adequate nutrition and care in pregnancy, and the social status of women and concerns about cervical and breast cancer.
Male attitudes towards gender and sexual relations arise in boyhood, when they are often set for life. Men need early socialization in concepts of sexual responsibility and ongoing education and support in order to experience full partnership in satisfying sexual relationships and family life.
In its advocacy and programming, UNFPA focuses on key messages that can empower both women and men at different stages of their lives.
Inform and empower girls to delay pregnancy until they are physically and emotionally mature.
Inspire and motivate boys and men to be sexually responsible partners and value daughters equally as sons.
Encourage governments to take responsibility for the human catastrophe of orphans and other children who live in the streets.
Reorient health education and services to meet the diverse needs of adolescents. Integrated reproductive health education and services for young people should include family planning information, and counselling on gender relations, STDs and HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse and reproductive health.
Ensure that health care programmes and providers' attitudes allow for adolescents' access to the services and information they need.
Support efforts to eradicate female genital cutting and other harmful practices, including early or forced marriage, sexual abuse, and trafficking of adolescents for forced labour, marriage or commercial sex.
Socialize and motivate boys and young men to show respect and responsibility in sexual relations.
Improve communication between men and women on issues of sexuality and reproductive health, and the understanding of their joint responsibilities, so that they are equal partners in public and private life.
Enable women to exercise their right to control their own fertility and their right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
Improve the quality and availability of reproductive health services and barriers to access.
Make emergency obstetric care available to all women who experience complications in their pregnancies.
Encourage men's responsibility for sexual and reproductive behaviour and increase male participation in family planning.
Reorient and strengthen health care services to better meet the needs of older women.
Support outreach by women's NGOs to help older women in the community to better understand the importance of girls' education, reproductive rights and sexual health so that they may become effective transmitters of this knowledge.
Develop strategies to better meet needs of the elderly for food, water, shelter, social and legal services and health care.