Human Rights

Putting Rights into Practice: Fighting Poverty

Nearly 3 billion people struggle to live on less than two dollars a day. Extreme poverty keeps about a quarter of the world’s people from enjoying basic human rights by denying them the basic elements needed for a life of dignity and freedom, including food, shelter, health care, clothing and personal security, and by limiting their options in life. Efforts to reduce poverty should go hand in hand with efforts to increase respect for human rights, and to engage people and communities in the solution of their problems and in their search for a better life.

Poverty reduction is an explicit goal of both the ICPD Programme of Action and the ICPD + 5 documents that guide UNFPA’s work. These commitments emphasize the mutually reinforcing interrelationships between reproductive health and sustainable development. Reducing poverty also is the overarching aim of the eight Millennium Development Goals, which are grounded in human rights principles.

UNFPA’s comparative advantage in reducing poverty lies in its support for the reproductive health and development needs of the poor and of marginalized groups, with a particular focus on women, adolescents and the girl child. Reproductive health problems undermine the productivity of individuals, especially women, and often push families into poverty. Another focus of UNFPA’s work is supporting poverty reduction through data collection, research, policy analysis and advocacy.

UNFPA at work

All of UNFPA’s programming in reproductive health, population and gender equality underpin the goal of poverty reduction and achievement of the interlinked Millennium Development Goals.

UNFPA, in partnership with other UN agencies, advocates widely for inclusion of the poorest and most marginalized groups in society, often through collaborative processes, such as Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) and Common Country Assessments. In these dialogues, UNFPA presents international and national evidence based on the latest data of the interactions between population dynamics, reproductive health and poverty.

UNFPA also uses its expertise in data and policy analysis to clarify and promote wider understanding of the links between these issues. For example, it organized a consultation of experts on linkages between population, reproductive health, gender and poverty, and published a series of papers from the meeting exploring the implications of these issues from various perspectives.

The Fund supports community-based interventions to reduce poverty, such as microcredit schemes to give entrepreneurial activities a boost. It also promotes and supports education and training in various skills that can expand options and opportunities.

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