Secretary Clinton Affirms U.S. Commitment to Health & Rights of Women
Globally $55 million appropriated to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for 2010

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January 8, 2010—Americans for UNFPA applauds Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her powerful address today which unequivocally voiced support for improving the health and rights of women globally. This announcement comes just weeks after the passage of the Omnibus Spending Bill (H.R. 3288) which includes a $55 million U.S. contribution to UNFPA in 2010. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, provides women’s health care and promotes the rights of women in more than 150 countries around the world.

Today, Secretary Clinton commemorated 15 years since the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that marked reproductive health care as critical for individual health, family well-being, broader economic development and a healthy planet.

“Women’s health is essential to the prosperity and health of all people,” and the U.S. has rejoined with all governments to “make the access to reproductive healthcare a basic right,” affirmed Secretary Clinton.

“Investing in women and girls is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” said Sec. Clinton.

“The U.S. is proud to support, once again, the work of the U.S. Population Fund,” said Sec. Clinton. “More funding is on the way,” she continued.

Secretary Clinton’s statement and an increased Congressional appropriation for UNFPA are among the greatest affirmations we have seen of the restored centrality of women in U.S. foreign policy, says Anika Rahman, President, Americans for UNFPA. “These investments honor UNFPA’s work to save lives, promote women’s health and advance the status of women.”

It was at the ICPD that countries agreed to achieve universal access to reproductive health services by 2015, a target reaffirmed in the Millennium Development Goals. Reproductive health services include programs that improve maternal and child health, voluntary family planning that is affordable and safe as well as health education programs to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and AIDS.

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Nations from around the world named UNFPA the lead U.N. agency to support the implementation of ICPD’s Program of Action. With UNFPA’s leadership, strides have been made to improve women’s access to health and rights.

  • Over the past five years in Rwanda, the use of modern contraception has nearly tripled, skilled birth attendance has increased from less than 40 percent to more than 50 percent, and deliveries in health facilities have jumped from less than a third to nearly half of all deliveries. “It often takes decades for countries to see this kind of change,” says Asha Mohamud, a reproductive health advisor for UNFPA, who visited Rwanda in September.
  • In Bolivia, home to the highest maternal death rate in Latin America, a new midwife training program, improves care to indigenous women while respecting their culture identity.
  • In Bangladesh, a documented decline in maternal mortality is attributed in large part to community engagement and mobilization.
  • In Djibouti, women have organized themselves to establish a community health fund. The fund supports health care visits during pregnancy and life-saving care during childbirth, including transportation, to ensure a safe delivery. Conversely, inadequate funding for reproductive health and family planning programs continues to hold grave consequences for women and families. One woman dies needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth every minute of every day, and six million more suffer injury, illness or disability.

“Maternal death and disability is one of the greatest moral, human rights and development challenges of our time,” says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA. Worldwide, about 215 million women say they want to delay or prevent pregnancy but are not using effective or modern contraception. Fewer than 20 percent of sexually active young people in Africa use contraception. To meet the unmet need for contraceptives, global population assistance for family planning should increase from the current $550 million to $2.6 billion annually.

“For too long, women’s issues have been denied the attention they deserve,” says Rahman. “Today, we are back on track to restore women’s health and dignity globally,”

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For more information and to view or read Secretary Clinton’s speech, go to www.ICPD2015.org.

To learn more about Americans for UNFPA visit www.americansforunfpa.org. Americans for UNFPA builds moral, political and financial support for the work on UNFPA within the United States.