Press Release

UNFPA Head Asks World Leaders to Put Women’s Health at Heart of Development Priorities

20 September 2010
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS—UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid today called on world leaders to increase funding for reproductive health, including family planning, and place women’s health at the centre of their national plans.

“Now is the time to move from speech lines to budget lines,” said Ms. Obaid at an event during the MDG Summit which started today at the United Nations. “Women deliver for their families, communities and nations, and now it is time to deliver for women. No woman should die giving life. There are still 1,000 women who die needlessly every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. There are still 215 million women with an unmet need for family planning and 2 million women suffering from the devastating childbirth injury of obstetric fistula. ”

“Investments in reproductive health pay high dividends and advance productivity, economic growth and the rights of women,” said Ms. Obaid, stressing: “The health of women is not the focus of the health sector alone. The health of women depends on planning and investments across many sectors—in education, health, nutrition, gender equality, and infrastructure.”

“Roads and electricity, for example, should be directed towards health centres to support women and families,” Ms. Obaid emphasized. “National plans should prioritize community access to an integrated package of affordable and essential health services, including family planning, maternal health care and HIV prevention and treatment.”

Ms. Obaid assured world leaders that UNFPA was committed to helping nations strengthen their health systems and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

“We are working with WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the World Bank to reduce high rates of maternal and newborn deaths in high priority countries,” said Ms. Obaid. “Together with the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, UNFPA aims to expand family planning to 100 million women by 2015. We are supporting national counterparts to train and deploy midwives, and also to prevent and treat fistula.”

“UNFPA fully supports the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to be launched by the UN Secretary-General on Wednesday to save 16 million lives by 2015,” Ms. Obaid concluded.

Ms. Obaid received an MDG Lifetime Achievement Award in New York on the eve of the Summit, for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The MDG Awards are given annually to honour exemplary contributions towards the development goals.


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.

Contact Information:
Abubakar Dungus
Tel:  +1 212 297 5031

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel:  +1 212 297 5028