Now available: Assessment of the human rights-based approach to family planning at UNFPA

19 October 2020
© UNFPA/Karlien Truyens. Nurse consults with a client about voluntary family planning at Uondwe Health Facility, Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

The assessment of the human rights-based approach to family planning at UNFPA was undertaken following the findings of two independent evaluations conducted by UNFPA Evaluation Office: Evaluation of UNFPA support to family planning (2008-2013) completed in 2015 and the Mid-term evaluation of UNFPA supplies programme (2013-20206) completed in 2017. The two evaluations complement each other and provide evidence on the UNFPA family planning interventions since 2008, including the extent to which UNFPA has implemented a human rights-based approach to family planning. The assessment was released by the UNFPA Commodity Security Branch.

Despite the unique comparative advantage of UNFPA, both evaluations point to a persistent gap between UNFPA rhetoric on human rights and its approach to family planning. In particular, the evaluations found that, among UNFPA staff and its partners, the understanding of human rights-based approach to family planning is varied. In practice, it is most often focused on access to family planning services and an expanded range of contraceptive method options. Furthermore, the evaluations show that the components supporting a human rights-based approach are not consistently applied throughout programme countries and that there are variances with other UNFPA technical programmes (such as HIV prevention and gender-based violence prevention) paying greater attention to human rights-based approach components than does the family planning programme.

Following the mid-term evaluation of the UNFPA Supplies programme, the Evaluation Office, the Commodity Security Branch and the Gender and Human Rights Branch joined efforts to undertake an in-depth assessment of the human rights-based approach to family planning at UNFPA. The purpose is to identify the opportunities, challenges, strengths and weaknesses for taking a rights-based approach within different country contexts, as well as to explore the perspectives of country stakeholders and identify areas for action, including for shaping capacity development of UNFPA staff and partners.

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