UNITED NATIONS, New York—UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, applauds today's statement from United States President Barack Obama restoring U.S. funding for UNFPA's operations.
President Obama said: "I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries."
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid welcomed President Obama's decision to restore funding and noted how quickly he addressed the issue. "The President's actions send a strong message about his leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the poorest regions of the world. And access to reproductive health is at the core of all of these issues."
There is much to be done. More than halfway towards the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals, the goal that addresses improving maternal and reproductive health has made the least progress and is the most underfunded.
"We are confident that under the new President's direction, the U.S. will resume its leadership in promoting and protecting women's reproductive health and rights worldwide," said. Ms. Obaid. "This is an essential step towards creating a world where all women have the opportunity to participate as equal members of society."
Globally, the rate of death from pregnancy and childbirth has declined just one percent between 1990 and 2005. Every minute a women loses her life giving life, adding up to 10 million women over a generation. Ninety-nine per cent of these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia.
"President Obama's decision could not have come at a more critical time," said Ms. Obaid. "If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved."
Congressionally-approved funding for UNFPA has been withheld by the U.S. Administration for the past seven years. During that time, the Fund has not received a total of $244 million in U.S. funding. "Restoration of funding will allow us to maintain recent gains during the current financial crisis and provide support to women in some of the poorest countries in the world," said Ms. Obaid. "Progress for all will not happen without progress for women. This means working to promote, as an international priority, the advancement of women's health, rights and equality."
UNFPA also welcomes President Obama's decision to engage his administration on family planning issues, restoring critical efforts to protect and empower women. Access to voluntary family planning is one of the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions.
"UNFPA stands ready to work with President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the American people to achieve our dream of helping women and girls in the poorest countries reach their fullest potential. We welcome the opportunity to work with the United States again as a full partner."
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. UNFPA -- because everyone counts.
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