UN agency applauds US President's decision to resume funding

24 January 2009

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has lauded President Barack Obama's decision to restore United States funding for its operations, hailing the new leader for his efforts to advance women's health, rights and equality.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama said that by resuming US support for UNFPA, his country will be joining 180 other donor nations in working towards slashing poverty, boosting the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

“The President's actions send a strong message about his leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the poorest regions of the world,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director.

US support totaling nearly $250 million has been withheld for the past seven years.

“President Obama's decision could not have come at a more critical time,” said Ms. Obaid. “If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved.”

The rate of death from pregnancy and childbirth – 99 per cent of which occur in developing countries – has fallen just one per cent between 1990 and 2005 around the world. Every minute, a woman dies giving life, totaling up to 10 million women during a generation.

Mr. Obama's decision “is an essential step towards creating a world where all women have the opportunity to participate as equal members of society,” the Executive Director noted.

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