United Nations Population Fund
In this article, we shall discuss the United Nations Population Fund. We shall examine what the UNPF is, and how it operates within the confines of the United Nations, and with a particular discussion on the role of the United Nations Population Fund as it relates to development work. As we shall see, the UNPF is highly active in working towards human rights within the context of development issues.
What is the United Nations Population Fund?
The United Nations Population Fund (or the UNPF) is one of the key United Nations entities that works on issues of development in international affairs. They focus on population issues, and they “help countries use population data to assess and anticipate needs, and to monitor progress and gaps in delivering on our promises” (United Nations Development Fund, 2014a). The UNPF also “provide[s] technical guidance, training and support to empower our partners and colleagues in the field. And we help ensure that the reproductive health and rights of women and young people remain at the very centre of development” (2014a). The United Nations Population Fund is quite active in their work with non-state actors as well as governments who want to work with UNPF, to help construct ways in which to help fight poverty, as well as improving sustainable development. Moreover, “The Fund also assists countries to collect and analyse population data that can help them understand population trends. And it encourages governments to take into account the needs of future generations, as well as those alive today” (UNGEI, 2014). Much of the commitment to these issues by the UNPF and other international actors was further established in the early 1990s (and in 1994 in Cairo, at the International Conference on Population and Development (UNGEI, 2014). The United Nations Population Fund works in many of the Global South states. They are involved in cooperative efforts with both state and non-state actors to help improve various development issues.
What are Issues that the United Nations Population Fund has been working on?
The United Nations, through the United Nations Population Fund, works on a number of issues that include but are not limited to:
- Family Planning–The United Nations Population Fund has been very active with regards to providing aid for families with regards to family planning. The UNPF has emphasized the importance of birth spacing, as well as the emphasis on access to contraceptives. The United Nations Population Fund argues that “Few things have a greater impact on the life of a woman than the number and spacing of her children. That’s why international agreements going back decades affirm that individuals should have the right (and the means) to freely decide when (or if) to start a family and how many children to bear. Yet, in this new century, some 222 million women who want to avoid or delay childbearing still lack access to the quality services and supplies needed to manage their fertility” (UNPF, 2014a). They point out that providing support to families would greatly reduce the number of pregnancies, something that the families themselves want. They argue that overall birth rates would decline by about 1/3rd (UNPF, 2014a). They explain that by offering these contraceptives to families, it would have great consequences. According to the United Nations Population Fund, “[t]his would avert 54 million unintended pregnancies, 26 million abortions (of which 16 million are unsafe), and seven million miscarriages. It would also prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths.
- Women’s and Family Health: Along with issues of family planning, the United Nations Program Fund is also very active on issues related to women’s health. There are a number of women’s health issues that the UNPF works on. For example, the United Nations Population Fund
In addition, the United Nations Population Fund also stresses maternal health. Just some actions supported by the UNPF (2014a) include
• “Training midwives and health workers
• Preventing and treating obstetric fistula
• Supplying clean birthing kits following disasters
• Strengthening emergency obstetric care
• Ensuring reliable supplies of essential medicines and equipment
• Enabling birth spacing.”
- HIV/AIDS: The United Nations Population Fund is also highly active in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They do this through a number of initiatives. For example, the UNPF offers support for education with regards to the disease. Furthermore, they offer more access to condoms. Moreover, they have been committed to working with local and international non-governmental organizations to help those with HIV or AIDS. They have wanted to ensure that the local NGO’s have a key role in the formation and application of health policies (UNPFA & UNAIDS, 2014).
- Female Education: The United Nations Population Fund is also highly active in a number of Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). Among the Millennium Development Goals is the objective to have all children enrolled in primary school by the year 2015. Often, female children are unable to attend school, and thus, the international development community has been working to remedy this human rights abuse. The UNPF has contributed to this work by trying to find ways to improve upon enrollment rates.
- Female Brides: The UNPF has also been active on the issue of child marriages, speaking on the effects of child brides with regards to their education and other human rights. Speaking on this issue, the United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin stated that ““Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects…“A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage” (United Nations, 2013).
United Nations Population Fund Reports
There are a number of reports that the United Nations Population Fund has put out with regards to different development issues. Just some of the recent reports by the UNPF include The State of the World’s Midwifery: A Universal Pathway: A Woman’s Right to Health (2014b). Here are another link to a variety of recent publications by the United Nations Population Fund, which includes papers on sustainable development, millennium development goals, female genital cutting, maternal mortality rates, among other topics.
United Nations (2013). By 2020, More Than 140 Million Girls Will Have Become Child Brides. 7 March, 2013. Available Online: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44314#.VFatv0syAds
United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI, 2014). About Us: Global Advisory Committee and Partners. Available Online: http://www.ungei.org/whatisungei/index_729.html
United Nations Population Fund (2014a). About UNFPA. Available Online: http://www.unfpa.org/public/about
United Nations Population Fund (2014b), The State of the World’s Midwifery: A Universal Pathway: A Woman’s Right to Health. June 2014, pages 1-228.
United Nations Population Fund & UNAIDS (2014). UNFPA United Nations Population Fund, pages 1-3. Available Online: http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2014/UNFPA_en.pdf