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Working for Women's Rights



"In the Family" / "En familia"
Photo by: Miguel Cruz (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), Place: Dominican Republic,
48,5x33,5 cm
August 2002
Face to Face responds to UNFPA funding cut


UNFPA Expresses Regret at U.S. Decision Not To Grant it Funding
UNFPA Director Responds to US Funding Cuts
General Does Not Support Foreign Aid Cuts: Face to Face Poll
EU Fills Decency Gap
What You Can Do
Read Responses from Around the World



UNFPA Expresses Regret at U.S. Decision Not To Grant it Funding

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 22 July 2002 - – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today said a decision by President Bush not to grant it the $34 million dollars appropriated by Congress for 2002 will cost thousands of women and children their lives

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Ms. Thoraya Obaid, said: “The denial of these funds will, unfortunately, significantly affect millions of women and children worldwide for whom the life-saving services provided by the UNFPA will have to be discontinued. Women and children will die because of this decision.”

UNFPA operates projects that provide contraception and gynecological services, teen-pregnancy prevention and HIV/AIDS prevention in 142 countries.

The $34 million from the United States would have allowed the agency to prevent 2 million unwanted pregnancies and more than 77,000 infant and child deaths, UNFPA estimates.

“We regret this decision by the Administration and hope that the United States will reconsider its stand and rejoin the community of nations working through UNFPA to save women’s lives, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people,” Ms. Obaid said.

The Bush Administration, in withholding funds, accepted allegations that UNFPA gives tacit support to China’s one-child policy just by working in China.

“UNFPA has not, does not and will not ever condone or support coercive activities of any kind, anywhere,” Ms. Obaid said.

“UNFPA has been and remains steadfast as a leading voice for human rights and for the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Programme of Action agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, all of which condemn coercion in all forms,” she added.

Ms. Obaid stressed that the Fund’s programme in China strictly observed the highest standards of human rights and that the participation of women and children was voluntary.

The United States is the only country ever to deny funding to UNFPA for non-budgetary reasons.
- - -

UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance, with programmes in 140 countries in 2001. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided some $5.6 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development.

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UNFPA Director Responds to US Funding Cuts

Statement by Thoraya A. Obaid,
Executive Director,
United Nations Population Fund,
on U.S. Funding Decision

Please view this link:

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General Does Not Support Foreign Aid Cuts: Face to Face Poll

Cuts, like that of the U.S. to the UNFPA, in overseas development assistance (ODA) are not supported by the general public. In 2001, Face to Face International commissioned London-based MORI to conduct an extensive 13-country poll that interviewed 13,000 Western Europeans on the subject of population assistance. The results mirrored those of a similar poll among Americans in 2000.

Foreign Aid: The People Speak

Face to Face Survey of Public Attitudes Towards Population Issues

Introduction

This report contains the findings of a 13-country study of European attitudes towards population issues in the developing world. The research focused on public perceptions of the amounts European governments spend on foreign aid. The study follows up on a survey conducted in 1996 among respondents in the same European countries.

Market & Opinion Research International (MORI) conducted the research on behalf of Face to Face International.1

Respondents in the sample were drawn from the following 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Key Findings

Europeans tend to overestimate the percentage of their governments’ budgets devoted to foreign aid by a large margin. In the 13 European countries surveyed, respondents, on average, estimated that their governments allocated 6 percent of their budgets to development assistance, whereas their governments in fact gave far less: between 0.3 percent and 1.9 percent.3

On being informed of the actual share of their governments’ budgets that was dedicated to foreign aid assistance4, half of those surveyed said that the percentage was too little, about a third felt that it was about right, and only a small proportion – 8 percent – said that they thought it was too much. This sends a clear signal to European governments that their citizens believe that assistance to developing countries should be given a much higher priority.

The results can be compared with similar questions asked of Americans in a survey conducted in 2000 by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)5, at The University of Maryland.

Americans are as likely as Europeans to give an estimate (64 percent compared with 67 percent, respectively), but they are more likely than Europeans to overestimate the portion of their country’s budget that goes to foreign aid. (Americans put the percentage at 24 percent; Europeans put it at 6 percent). When told that the United States actually spent only 1 percent of its budget on foreign aid, 37 percent of Americans surveyed indicated that this share was too small (compared with 51 percent of Europeans); 44 percent said it was about right (compared with 31 percent of Europeans); and 13 percent said it was too much (compared with 8 percent of Europeans).


Increased Support for Access to and Funding of Reproductive Health Services

Five years on, we find that public support in Europe for reproductive health services in developing countries has increased.

Access to some of the reproductive health services is deemed to be more important for the developing world than for home nations, notably contraceptive and family planning advice (63 percent for developing world vs. 50 percent for home nations), followed by advice on avoiding STDs (60 percent for developing world) and contraception (55 percent for developing world vs. 39 percent for home nations).

When asked to identify which services their government should help fund for people in developing and Third World countries, as one would expect, support for each factor falls by between 11 and 13 points compared with the question on access for people in the developing world. However, Europeans appear now to be more favorably disposed than in 1996 towards their government funding initiatives in the developing world, with an increase of 2 to 10 points for each service.

Support for government funding of contraceptive and family planning advice in the developing world remains top of the list (50 percent of Europeans) followed by advice on avoiding STDs (47 percent of Europeans). Public support for the following services has increased most notably since 1996: sex education in schools, advice about and treatment of STDs (up 9 to 10 percentage points in each case).

Europeans have tended to believe that foreign aid should be used primarily for healthcare, disaster relief6 and education. Now, they have begun to widen the target areas to include helping to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS (46 percent, up 12 points), family planning education and services (30 percent, up 1 point) and improving the lives of women (25 percent, up 5 points).

Conclusions

European support for the provision of many reproductive health services at home and in developing countries has increased.

Europeans attach an ever-higher priority to improving the lives of women in the Third World, helping prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, and funding many other foreign aid projects.

Not only have levels of support for government funding to the developing world increased, but half of Europeans, when acquainted with the facts, agree that their governments are giving too little in foreign aid.

This all sends a clear signal to governments to rethink their budgetary priorities and increase foreign aid.


Notes

1 UNFPA’s definition of reproductive health services is: the combination of contraceptive advice or education, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and advice on ante- and post-natal services. The following form UNFPA’s basic concerns: reproductive health and rights, teenage pregnancy/sexual activity, violence against women, gender/sex inequality/women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS.

2 In 1999.

3 These were the amounts of government expenditure that went to foreign aid in 1999.

4 In 1999.

5 Program on International Policy Attitudes.

6 Support for disaster relief has increased by 14 points, no doubt reflecting the fact that numerous natural disasters have taken place since the previous study.

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EU Fills Decency Gap

Brussels, 24 July 2002


Reproductive Health in Developing Countries: The Commission moves to fill the 'decency gap' with Euro 32 million package

The European Commission has strengthened its support for sexual and reproduction health with the approval by Member States of a €32 million programme in 221(1) developing countries. The joint EU-ACP programme is being launched in partnership with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and will help the target countries with family planning and advice on population, health and sexual matters. This decision makes good a promise made by Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Poul Nielson last year to step in and fill the 'decency gap'2(2) left by the US Administration's intention to end its support for the UNFPA. Welcoming the green light given to the Commission proposal and commenting on the US move, Mr Nielson said, " We highly value the work carried out by organisations such as the IPPF and the UNFPA. We consider that their efforts in areas such as contraception and HIV/AIDS form part of the solution to challenges in developing countries rather than part of the problem. The US decision is regrettable and counter-productive. The decision to cut funding to the UNFPA may well lead to more unwanted pregnancies, and increased dangers for mothers and infants. The losers from this decision will be some of the most vulnerable people on this planet. Reproductive health services are crucial elements in the fight against poverty and the UNFPA and the IPPF deserve strong support to continue their activities."

Most of the 22 countries that will benefit from this EU-ACP programme are amongst the poorest countries on the planet in terms of development indicators. The maternal mortality rate varies from 500 to 1800 maternal deaths for every 100 000 live births. In Malawi, maternal mortality is increasing by 50%. This programme aims to reinforce the capacity of these countries to provide a wide range of services including pre and post natal care, assisted births, family planning, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS and information and advice to young people vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies. The programme, which will be carried out over a period of three and a half years, forms part of wider Commission policy in this area, particularly with regard to information and education of populations and improvements in the use and quality of services on offer.

The Development Council issued Conclusions on 30 May this year strongly supporting the activities of the UNFPA and invited donor countries to continue their support of the UNFPA. The Conclusions also considered these activities 'to be in strict conformity with the Action Programme unanimously adopted at the International Conference for Population and Development in Cairo in 1994'. Ministers also welcomed the Commission's intention to strengthen its co-operation with the UNFPA, which has an international mandate from the Cairo conference. The Commission has also chosen the IPPF as a partner, which, thanks to its impressive network of associations and volunteers, is able to access the most vulnerable and socially excluded populations. IPPF and UNFPA will work in close collaboration with counterparts at government, community and NGO levels.

The Commission has been supporting work in this area since the 1980's. Aid tripled between 1994 and 1998 where €800 million was allocated and for 2000 alone, reached over €300 million. The type of work has evolved considerably, in particular to implement the Action Programme adopted at the International Conference for Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. This Conference recognised that sexual and reproductive health is a crucial element in the fight against poverty, the cornerstone of EU development policy. The fight against maternal mortality, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are also objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, supported by the EU. Health is a priority area of EU development policy with a total ongoing portfolio of €4.6 billion.

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What You Can Do

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