Total Gifts and Pledges:
of 20 January 2009
Campaign founders Lois Abraham (far
left) and Jane Roberts open letters at UNFPA headquarters. Photo: William A.
The 34 Million Friends campaign is a grass-roots movement that was independently initiated in July 2002 by two American women, Lois Abraham of New Mexico and Jane Roberts of California. Although they had never met, Lois and Jane were both outraged by the United States withdrawal of $34 million approved for UNFPA and they decided to take action. Each woman started her own email campaign, urging men and women across the United States to donate $1 or more to help bridge the funding gap. Their goal is to find 34 million friends to help UNFPA continue its invaluable work as the largest multilateral provider of family planning and maternal health care. So far, over 100,000 individuals and donors have contributed nearly $3 million. Jane and Lois continue to maintain an active schedule of speaking engagements and other activities to rally support for UNFPA's work and continue the momentum of 34 Million Friends.
The United States is the only country to ever deny funding to UNFPA for non-budgetary reasons. In July 2002, the U.S. Administration announced its decision to withhold $34 million - that had previously been appropriated by Congress to UNFPA - based on false claims that the Fund supports coercive abortion in China. The decision was taken despite recommendations made by a State Department fact-finding team to release the funds. The State Department team investigated UNFPA-supported projects in China and submitted a report in May stating, based on what we heard, saw, and read, we find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC [People's Republic of China]. Indeed, UNFPA has registered its strong opposition to such practices.
The current Administration has, so far, withheld $127 million in funds appropriated by Congress. UNFPA has publicly stated that it has never, and will never, be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world. The Fund is a staunch supporter, and promoter, of the human rights-based approach to family planning.
Funds raised from the 34 Million Friends campaign will go towards UNFPA's core programme budget, to compensate for the loss of support from the United States. Funds are applied to our main priority area, which is to help ensure universal access to quality reproductive health information and care to all couples and individuals by the year 2015.
No. UNFPA's work is guided by the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. It states that abortion should not be promoted as a method of family planning. UNFPA fully subscribes to this and does not provide support for abortion services. It works to prevent abortion through family planning, and to help countries provide services for women suffering from the complications of unsafe abortion.
UNFPA is an international organization, and as such, does not have tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(03) public charity in the U.S. However, Americans for UNFPA does have this tax- exempt status. It was established to provide information and advocacy in the U.S. about UNFPA's work around the world and to raise funds in the U.S. to support its efforts in the areas of reproductive health, population and development.