With the United States, UNFPA is strengthening its humanitarian assistance to women and girls in Afghanistan and across the world

17 Nov 2021

With the United States, UNFPA is strengthening its humanitarian assistance to women and girls in Afghanistan and across the world

New York - UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem traveled to Washington, D.C., from 1-2 November and met with our partners from the United States of America to build upon the commitments made since the return of the United States as a strong supporter of UNFPA. It was an opportunity to bolster UNFPA’s longstanding partnership with the U.S. in supporting our mission for women and girls, particularly in humanitarian settings. 


Highlights of the visits 

Since the return of financial and political support from the United States in 2020, the U.S. has been a powerful partner of UNFPA and a strong voice defending the rights of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health as well as protection from gender-based violence. As a global leader, the U.S. has a role to play and its funding is already saving and improving many lives across the globe. 

On the first day of her visit to Washington, D.C., Dr. Kanem met virtually with former USAID Administrator Mark Green, who also served in Congress and as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania. Amb. Green now runs the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., with whom UNFPA has partnered for years on technical dialogues. 

Dr. Kanem also met with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman, the first woman ever to serve in that role. Dr. Kanem and Deputy Secretary Sherman discussed the pressing need to empower women and girls, including by promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and advance human rights, gender equality, and global health. They also discussed the importance of preventing sexual assault and sexual violence. 

Dr. Kanem enjoyed an off-the-record dinner that evening with a diverse set of NGO leaders from the reproductive health, rights and justice sector.

The following day, Dr. Kanem met with leaders from the White House National Security Council’s Directorate for Development, Global Health, and Humanitarian Response to thank the White House for its support and discuss the ongoing gendered impacts from COVID-19. She also met with leadership in the White House Gender Policy Council team to discuss the White House Gender Policy Strategy, the United States’ first-ever national gender strategy to advance the full participation of all people – including women and girls – in the United States and around the world.

Dr. Kanem also met with key U.S. Representatives and Senators such as Representative Gregory Meeks, who serves as new Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Rosa DeLauro, who serves as new Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Chrissy Houlahan, lead author of the Support UNFPA Funding Act (H.R. 3938). 


“@RepGregoryMeeks: Met with @UNFPA ED @Atayeshe to discuss their work supporting maternal & child health, ending child marriage, and combatting gender-based violence. From Afghanistan to Haiti, the US is committed to supporting @UNFPA's empowerment of women & girls globally.” via Twitter

Dr. Kanem’s final meeting was with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Jeanne Shaheen who serve on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, which determines core funding levels and policies for UNFPA. Senator Shaheen is the sole woman serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has made a point to raise women’s health and rights whenever strategically possible. 


UNFPA Executive Director meets with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Shaheen

Ramping up humanitarian support 

As devastating humanitarian crises are increasing in frequency and intensity, UNFPA shows up for women and girls in the most challenging settings, with the support of the United States as a committed humanitarian partner. 

The U.S. is currently providing critical support to UNFPA’s humanitarian work in Afghanistan, and funds will now help scale up some of UNFPA’s essential health and protection structures, such as the community-based Family Health Houses, where women can receive access to family planning and reproductive health advice and services. In August and September, UNFPA reached 8,484 women with essential services, and skilled birth attendants helped deliver 2,230 babies in these 172 UNFPA-supported Family Health Houses. 

Millions of individuals in Afghanistan, Haiti or Ethiopia are now left without access to reproductive health and protection services. With the assistance of the U.S., the top contributor to our humanitarian work thus far in 2021, UNFPA is better equipped to reach those furthest behind and most in need. 

A new partner to our Supplies Partnership 

As part of these new efforts to ramp up support to our humanitarian work, the United States will also, for the first time, contribute to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, with US$ 5 million.

This inaugural U.S. contribution will help ensure that modern contraceptives and lifesaving maternal health medicines reach women and adolescent girls who need access to family planning and safe delivery in countries affected by humanitarian emergencies, particularly those furthest behind and with populations of refugees and internally displaced people. This contribution  will go to countries with some of the highest maternal death rates in the world. 

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