UNFPAUNFPA Annual Report 2001
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Challenges ahead

The forces affecting people's lives today are many and powerful—poverty, discrimination, conflict and instability, migration, urbanization, globalization, environmental degradation, the increasing size of a younger generation now in their reproductive years, and the ageing of an older generation threatened by poverty, isolation and illhealth. These forces pose many dangers to those who are vulnerable, especially poor women and girls.

Half of all people live on less than $2 a day, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Poverty and environmental stress are likely to intensify globally as a result of rapid population growth from a current 6.1 billion to 9.3 billion worldwide by mid-century—all of the growth will occur in developing countries. Discrimination and violence against women continue to deprive individuals of their rights and nations of great potential. HIV/AIDS continues to take people in their prime from families and countries in desperate need of their skills and strength.

Need is growing worldwide for the information and services promoted by UNFPA. Population growth, the HIV/AIDS crisis and escalating emergency situations are increasing demand, yet resources are not keeping pace.

Millennium goals

We know what needs to be done. Action in our new century was spelled out in the UN Millennium Declaration of September 2000, when heads of state and government declared a commitment to halve extreme poverty, ensure primary education for boys and girls alike, reduce maternal mortality, and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. UNFPA is contributing to the Millennium Development Goals by advancing the principles of the ICPD (Cairo, 1994).

The consensus is global: at the ICPD, 179 countries called for gender equality and women's empowerment and universal access to primary education and reproductive health services, including family planning, by 2015. UNFPA supports development that is sustainable, gender-sensitive and people-centred.

A member of a UNFPA-supported industrial sewing collective in Jordan. The collective provides a steady income for 10 young women.

Photo: UNFPA/Don Hinrichsen

With country offices in 112 nations, we assist governments in identifying priorities, developing and managing population programmes, and tracking progress. Our system of monitoring, evaluation and reporting ensures cost-effectiveness and measurable results. Many countries are making real progress in reproductive health, particularly in family planning.

Countries have adopted policies and established administrative frameworks, trained new workers and upgraded skills, and extended services to new groups of people and into new areas.

The equal rights of women and men are fundamental values of the Millennium Declaration and the UNFPA mandate. Laws that guarantee women's rights, health care that protects women's well-being and education that ensures women's active participation benefit the individual woman, her family, her community and her country.

Programmes for poor women and girls—who today receive less schooling, less food, less health care and less pay for their work compared to their brothers—are helping bring about change. Indeed, investments in social services, especially for girls, spur economic growth. Empowering women as full partners in sustainable development is essential to combat poverty and environmental degradation, secure democracy and find lasting global harmony.