Powerful Partnerships

The “Stronger Voices” initiative, launched with generous and visionary funding from the UN Foundation www.unfoundation.org, pulls together the complementary strengths of four major UN agencies. Through participatory planning activities and further experimentation, a common vision is emerging that builds on the comparative advantages of these partners, facilitating coordinated support to programme countries.

UNFPA, The United Nations Population Fund, the lead agency, brings a wealth of experience to the initiative, particularly in its capacity to promote the reproductive rights of women, men, and adolescents through more than three decades of support for reproductive health programmes. Many UNFPA-supported projects emphasize women's empowerment and their participation in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of reproductive health services. In addition, UNFPA has actively provided technical support, equipment, and training to health care providers to improve service quality.

ILO through its "Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty" (ILO/STEP) Programme, has been contributing to the project its extensive experience in expanding social protection to excluded groups. It has promoted a deeper understanding and use of micro-insurances as an innovative mechanism enabling disadvantaged groups to access health services and to influence their quality.

UNICEF at the country level offers expertise in strengthening health services through different forms of community participation, including co-management of health facilities. Many UNICEF-supported projects enlist the active participation of adolescent girls to promote informed choices and better health.

WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) is noted for its capacity to develop and disseminate technical standards for sexual and reproductive health services. WHO/RHR will contribute its experience in assisting countries in strategic planning, operations research, and scaling up of interventions to improve the quality of reproductive health care. In addition, WHO will support linkages to its ongoing work in improving the performance of health care systems. .

At the operational level, many more organizations are involved, from governments to grass-roots community groups. Indeed, forming powerful partnerships among existing organizations -- especially between health care providers and groups of clients -- is a central strategy of the initiative.

What's NEW

Launched in 2001, with funding from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), Stronger Voices builds on the respective strengths and experiences of four UN partners: UNFPA, ILO/STEP, UNICEF, and WHO.

Planning activities are underway in the six pilot countries -- India, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru and Tanzania.

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