UNFPAUNFPA Annual Report 2000
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Building Equality

Women's second-class status carries a financial, social and personal cost. Without education and decent health care, girls and women face limited opportunities and unfulfilled dreams. When women have no say in sexual matters, they cannot prevent unwanted pregnancies or avoid becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. There is also a larger dimension: failure to invest in women and girls slows economic and social progress.

Discrimination has already condemned far too many women to lives of drudgery and despair, some to death. The situation is unacceptable – an affront to human dignity, an obstacle to advancement, and a mar on our collective conscience. 


All over the world, UNFPA supports activities and advocacy to improve the status of women and girls. The benefits are enormous – better health, increased incomes – in short, a better future. We work with a wide variety of partners – locally, nationally and internationally – to raise awareness about discrimination's effects, improve laws and policies, change harmful attitudes and behaviour, and empower women by working to improve their access to health services, education and employment opportunities.

Highlighting gender concerns in every aspect of our programmes, UNFPA works with partners worldwide to bring about better legal protection for women and stricter enforcement of existing laws. In 2000, we cooperated with the Centre for Reproductive Law and Policy to strengthen national legal and policy advocacy to improve access to reproductive health care. The Centre worked with national non-governmental organizations in 51 countries and issued an international report documenting trends in the institutionalization of women's reproductive rights. UNFPA also supports programmes in schools, youth clubs, workplaces, trade associations, police forces, and other organizations that encourage boys and men to accept and promote equality.


A distraught Albanian woman, displaced from her home, speaks to a UNFPA consultant participating in a needs assessment mission on sexual and gender-based violence. 

Photo: Marie Dorigny

  • In Kenya, UNFPA-funded advocacy efforts by the Federation of Women Lawyers promoted a series of gender-related bills on equality, affirmative action and family protection.

  • In Zimbabwe, a UNFPA-funded project is sensitizing men about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So far 120 chief executives, 150 commanders and senior officers from police forces, 28 members of district health teams and 100 union leaders have taken part. 

  • UNFPA funded the International Women's Health Coalition to provide support to NGO advocacy in the Beijing+5 meeting to protect sexual and reproductive rights on the international agenda.

  • In Nepal, UNFPA supported a project to improve reproductive health among people living in slums around Kathmandu and Patan. The project taught the most marginalized women how to read and write basic words. The women are now capable of discussing and exchanging information on reproductive health with their neighbours.