Reaffirm. Renew. Revitalize. These words capture the spirit of 2004, when UNFPA and the international community celebrated 10 years of progress since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). In Cairo, 179 countries agreed on a bold action plan to reduce poverty, ensure women's rights and reproductive health, and integrate population issues into development plans and policies. To mark the anniversary, leaders in government and civil society issued declarations vowing to carry their promises forward.
Since Cairo, choices have been expanded for millions of people. In only 10 years, the percentage of couples in the developing world that are able to choose and use contraception has increased from 55 to 60. Infant mortality rates have dropped from 71 to 61 out of every 1,000 babies born. And life expectancy in the developing world has risen from 61 to 63 years of age. Women and men in ever greater numbers have stood up against female genital cutting, rape, gender violence and other human rights violations.
A global survey published by UNFPA in 2004 confirmed progress towards ICPD goals and identified areas for action. Its findings will inform the work of the Fund in the decade ahead. The major challenge is to secure the political will and funding required to achieve the mutually reinforcing ICPD and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2004, confidence in UNFPA was reflected in the growing number of donor governments, from 149 in 2003 to 166 - with an increasing number of developing countries contributing to the Fund. As a result, regular and other contributions surpassed $500 million for the first time since UNFPA was established in 1969.
In 2004, UNFPA continued to strengthen and improve its programmes, advocacy and policy dialogue. A high-level consultation in New York reinforced the links between HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health. A new youth advisory programme at UNFPA headquarters opened an avenue for the participation of young people. Workshops and publications advanced the Fund's commitment to culturally sensitive programming to advance human rights. Civil society leadership was strengthened at a global round table in London. Parliamentarians renewed their commitment to the Cairo agenda and population and reproductive health at a meeting in Strasbourg.
UNFPA also continued to respond to humanitarian crises. When the devastating tsunami struck in the last week of the year, UNFPA worked to meet the needs of women and young people and restore reproductive health services. Emergency assistance was also provided to Sudanese refugees of the crisis in Darfur.
2004 marked the first year of a new decade dedicated to implementing the ICPD Programme of Action. UNFPA remains committed to promoting the right of every man, woman, and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
Executive Director, UNFPA