PRESS RELEASE: Renewed U.S. Support for UNFPA
For immediate release:
In a statement released on January 28, 2021, USA for UNFPA welcomed the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise of renewed support for UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency. However, the organization emphasized the overwhelming need for all sectors of American society to support of UNFPA’s lifesaving work. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and worsen reproductive health outcomes around the world. This is particularly the case as many poorer countries will be unable to vaccinate their populations for years to come.
UNFPA predicts that 47 million women have lost access to family planning because of COVID-19 related disruptions. This could lead to 7 million additional unintended pregnancies and 29,000 preventable maternal deaths.
The virus has also impacted programs that prevent child marriage and female genital mutilation. There will be 13 million additional child brides and 2 million survivors of female genital mutilation because of program suspensions.
Violence against women has also dramatically risen under lockdown orders. Every 6 months of lockdowns result in 31 million additional cases of violence.
Further, COVID-19 has threatened priceless gains in girls’ education. Before the pandemic, girls were less likely than boys to go to school. Now, increases in child marriage, teenage pregnancy, household work, and care labor make it more likely that girls won’t get the education they deserve.
Leaders Voice Their Appreciation
Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem, said, “The return of the United States as a major donor to UNFPA at this challenging time sends a message of hope to vulnerable women and girls everywhere. COVID19 has put decades of hard-won progress at risk. With the support and solidarity of all our partners, I believe we can build back better and go even further to end needless deaths in childbirth, end violence against women and girls, and make family planning available to all who want it. I welcome the United States commitment to rejoining these efforts.”
In an interview, Sarah Craven, the Director of UNFPA’s office in Washington D.C., shared that renewed U.S. support for UNFPA was important now because, “UNFPA has a very bold agenda. We are trying to change the game for women and girls by meeting the three zeros: zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence, including traditional harmful practices, such as FGM and child marriage. We can’t do it alone.”
Leaders at USA for UNFPA echoed that sentiment. Jacob Onufrychuk, the Chair of the Board, said, “The return of U.S. support is one necessary step towards ensuring every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. To fully make this vision a reality, we need every sector of society to step forward.”
Amanda Seller, CEO of USA for UNFPA said, “We need everyone to commit to ensuring basic health and rights for absolutely every person, no matter what. The world had been making great progress. We simply cannot allow the pandemic and its consequences to thwart that – women and girls are counting on us.”