Civil Society & Parliamentarians

Civil society and parliamentarians play a critical role in safeguarding the health, rights and well-being of women and girls.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) include a range of formal and informal stakeholders including:international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, philanthropic foundations, faith-based organizations (FBOs), advocacy groups, trade unions, women’s groups, youth-led organizations and professional voluntary associations.

Over the decades, UNFPA has invested in advocacy and active outreach including facilitating their active participation in the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Twenty-five years later, the success of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, which took place in November 2019, was largely attributed to the engagement and reinvigoration of an even wider cross-section of stakeholders.

UNFPA is committed to building and strengthening strategic partnerships with CSOs and parliamentarians around UNFPA’s transformative results to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNFPA will reinvigorate and expand partnerships with actors outside of its traditional orbits to connect with innovation ecosystems and strengthen alliances with underrepresented groups (e.g. afro-descendants, persons with disabilities, indigenous women), parliamentarians, youth networks, social movements and women’s groups. UNFPA will further scale up South-South and triangular cooperation and expand humanitarian partnerships to enhance operational and logistic capacity to reach the furthest left behind.

How we work with civil society organizations

Most partnerships with civil society organizations take place at the country level to provide more customized solutions that respond to local realities and needs. However, there are various opportunities for collaboration at the global and regional levels through the following five modes of engagement:

  • Advocacy and policy dialogue - UNFPA facilitates dialogues and consultations with CSOs and parliamentarians on various advocacy-related events and thematic issues. This includes leveraging global conferences for mobilizing political will at the global level and promoting social and behavioural change at the national level.

  • Capacity development - UNFPA strengthens and builds the capacity of implementing partners (IPs) to lead or play a key role in helping further UNFPA’s mission, including national actors and communities to respond to humanitarian crises, as well as supporting youth and

  • Service delivery - Through IP agreements, UNFPA provides financial resources and supplies for programme implementation and service delivery, supplementing CSOs’ financial and non-financial contributions. This is particularly vital in hard-to-reach settings where CSOs are often at the front lines providing life-saving supplies and essential services to those left furthest behind.

  • Knowledge management and skills building - UNFPA provides both formal and informal mechanisms to share knowledge and information with the Fund. For example, UNFPA engages a Global Advisory Group that serves as a strategic advisory body and sounding board on key issues for the Executive Director.

  • South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) - SSTC fosters cooperation between national institutions, mainly governmental, but also broad alliances involving non-governmental institutions including CSOs with potential comparative advantages in the Global South.


Visits - UNFPA organizes study visits for parliamentarians, participation in global conferences and thematic workshops, consultations and dialogues. These opportunities allow members of parliament to see first-hand the need for sexual and reproductive health programmes, share knowledge with one another, build their capacity to be strong advocates and create champions for the programmes and the ICPD mandate.

International Parlimentarians' Conference on ICPD - UNFPA and its regional parliamentary partners have organized the past seven International Parliamentarians' Conferences on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD) since 2002.

Most recently, in 2018, more than 90 parliamentarians from over 70 countries have agreed on a forward-looking declaration that aims to foster understanding of and consensus around the urgnecy to address current political discourse on sexual and reproductive health and rights ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

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