Frequently Asked Questions
What do the letters “UNFPA” stand for?
UNFPA used to stand for United Nations Fund for Population Activities, though this name is no longer in use. Today, UNFPA is known as the United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency.
What is the history and mission of UNFPA?
UNFPA was founded in 1967 and began its operations in 1969. At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, 179 governments determined that sexual and reproductive health and rights were human rights and that women’s empowerment and gender equality were necessary to advance the well-being of all. The ICPD is the foundation of UNFPA’s mission today, which is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every woman and girl can reach her fullest potential.
What is USA for UNFPA?
USA for UNFPA is a US–based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to building support for UNFPA’s work within the United States. We raise awareness among Americans about global sexual and reproductive health issues and mobilize support to provide lifesaving care to women and girls. Donations to USA for UNFPA are tax-deductible.
Does UNFPA operate in the United States?
UNFPA does not provide sexual and reproductive health care services in the United States.
At USA for UNFPA, we work closely with UNFPA to mobilize support for women and girls and bring Americans the latest updates on global sexual and reproductive health issues.
Does UNFPA provide abortion?
We believe every woman and girl should be empowered to make the best decision for her health, future, and family and that she has the right to access the sexual and reproductive health care she needs to reach her fullest potential.
Per its mandate, UNFPA does not provide abortion and does not promote changes to the legal status of abortion. Each country and its people have the right to make such determinations – and interfering in those individual country processes could jeopardize our lifesaving work in the areas of family planning, maternal health, and ending violence against women and girls.
Where abortion is legal, we believe it should be safe and accessible. Where abortion is illegal, we support the right of all women to access lifesaving post-abortion care. We oppose coercive or forced abortion, as well as the practice of prenatal sex selection, which is often based in a preference for sons.
How does the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade impact global reproductive health?
Since UNFPA’s founding over 50 years ago, the global trend has been for countries to expand and protect reproductive rights and the United States has been at the forefront of this movement. However, this changed with the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and remove national protections for abortion care.
We fear that the decision to roll back reproductive freedoms in the US may embolden leaders across the globe to regress on sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to access family planning services.
UNFPA’s 2022 State of the World Population Report spoke to the complex relationships between abortion, maternal health, family planning, and unintended pregnancy. The report found that:
Nearly half of all pregnancies, totaling 121 million each year, are unintended;
Over 60 percent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion;
A staggering 45 percent of all abortions around the world are unsafe;
Unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths globally;
Restricting access to abortion does not prevent people from seeking abortion, it simply makes it more deadly.
We work to deliver a world where every woman is empowered to plan her pregnancy and no woman has to fear losing her life during pregnancy or childbirth. Thanks to the support of this community, family planning supplies provided by UNFPA in 2022 prevented over 13.3 million unintended pregnancies and 3.7 million unsafe abortions.
How does climate change impact women and girls? How does UNFPA address climate change?
Though our work doesn’t often directly address climate change, we recognize that climate change and sexual and reproductive health are connected. We believe that empowered women and girls are key to achieving a better climate future.
Climate change has a specific and disproportionate impact on the health and safety of women and girls. Warmer temperatures are linked to higher amounts of maternal and newborn death and women and girls are more likely to die during climate disasters. Climate disasters create barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, and, we know that emergencies like climate disasters tend to result in increased instances of violence against women and girls. Climate change also disrupts livelihoods, both acutely during disasters and over time as land for water and farming becomes unable to support communities. This can lead to higher rates of child marriage, as families feel they are no longer able to support their daughters, and transactional sex, as women and girls try to find new ways to afford basic goods.
We work with communities affected by climate change to ensure that women and girls have access to the lifesaving sexual and reproductive health care they need. This work includes working with policymakers and leaders to ensure that climate policies and response plans consider sexual and reproductive health and rights issues.
We uplift the voices of women leading climate activism in their communities and we support Indigenous communities, who have always been stewards of the environment. By providing women and girls access to the sexual and reproductive health care they need to thrive, we enable a larger portion of the population to mitigate the severity of climate change.
How does UNFPA work with men and boys?
We work with women and girls to provide them with the sexual and reproductive health care they need to thrive at home, at school or work, and in their communities. We also provide skills training and employment opportunities, including in roles traditionally held by men. We advocate for policies that advance gender equality at the community and national levels.
The wellbeing and success of women and girls cannot be realized without the partnership of men and boys. As partners, fathers, faith and community leaders, educators, peers, policymakers, health care providers, and advocates, men and boys have a huge role to play in advancing gender equality. UNFPA has a variety of projects and programs aimed specifically at men and boys, including:
Skills training for new dads, where they learn how to change diapers and swaddle their newborns.
Education sessions with faith and community leaders about the harms of violence against women and girls, including practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Family planning counseling where men learn about the importance of birth spacing and different types of contraception, including vasectomy. They also receive information about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
Classes with teenage boys where stereotypes about masculinity and risky behavior are challenged, especially in regard to sexual or romantic relationships.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are for all of us. But, without the partnership of men and boys, the health and rights of women and girls will never be achieved.
How can I support women and girls?
The best way to support women and girls is to make a donation. We rely entirely on voluntary funding from supporters like you to deliver lifesaving care to women and girls. Monthly donations are especially effective because they enable us to respond immediately when crisis strikes. Monthly gifts also allow us to plan ahead and lower our administrative costs. This means that more of your gift goes directly to women and girls.
When you make a gift, you agree to receive our email updates. You can always unsubscribe in the email or by contacting us here.
You can also get the latest updates on global sexual and reproductive health by joining our mailing list or by following us on social media. Hearing from women and girls and understanding their experiences is key to achieving a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every woman and girls can reach her fullest potential.
Where does my donation go?