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UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck gives the keynote message




Honorable Mayor Herbert Bautista

Honorable Vice Mayor Ma. Josefina Belmote

Dr. Jeepy Perez, POPCOM Executive Director

Government Officials

NGO partners

Private sector partners

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

Happy World Population Day to all!

UNFPA is pleased to celebrate this day with all of you. We thank the Commission on Population led by its Executive Director, Dr. Jeepy Perez, for organizing today’s celebration and for gathering us as one community of population and development advocates. 

I also want to take this moment to thank our long-time partner, Quezon City, led by Mayor Bautista, for hosting today’s activities. We’re very grateful to have such an enduring partnership with you that goes back to the city’s participation in the Joint Program on Maternal and Neonatal Health (JPMNH) to today’s celebration. It is a reminder that Quezon City has such a strong and enduring commitment to women and girls setting an excellent example for other local government units to follow.

Let me start my message by telling you a story. About seven months ago, 30 year old, Mae Esparcia, gave birth to her first child, Maria Carmen. After her delivery, Ms. Esparcia, a garments factory worker at Hamlin Industrial Corporation in Cavite, Philippines, decided to start using contraceptive pills, which she received for free – from her workplace. She told us she is taking the pills so that she avoids getting pregnant so soon after the birth of her daughter. 

I mention this story because through family planning Ms. Esparcia is able to plan the timing and size of her family, in essence, to take control of her future. Millions of other Filipino women would also like to plan the timing and the size of their families, but are not yet able to do so.

In the Philippines, 18 per cent of married women have an unmet need for family planning, according to the 2013 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey. This is why we’ve partnered with Hamlin, where Ms. Esparcia works, to support their FP programme, part of our joint efforts to expand access to family planning services in the Philippines.

It is also why World Population Day is so important. All over the world, millions of people, continents away, celebrate this day like we are doing focusing attention on the urgency and importance of addressing population issues.

This year, the celebration focuses on the theme, Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations. This theme highlights the important role family planning plays in empowering people, especially women and girls, the marginalized and the vulnerable, as a springboard towards economic development.

Studies show the strong correlation between the size of the family and likelihood towards poverty. Families with more children are more likely to suffer from poverty than those with lesser number of children. This is because more children means more costs for education and health and because poor people are less likely to have knowledge of and access to family planning. No wonder, then that the National Demographic and Health Survey shows, that Filipinos from the poorest quintiles have larger families – in fact, they have two more children than they wanted in their lifetime. The poorest quintile also has the highest unmet need for family planning at 21 per cent.

The conclusion is clear – access to family planning is the key to reduce poverty.

But family planning is not just a need, it is a basic human right. It is not only a key factor in reducing poverty, it is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The rights of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children to have, brings women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, boosting family income levels. As women gain access to productive resources, they also report better health outcomes, achieve higher levels of education and experience a lower incidence of intimate-partner violence.

Investing in family planning is a great investment too. For each dollar spent on contraceptive services cost of pregnancy-related care is reduced by $2.30 due to less unintended pregnancies. These investments also yield economic and other gains that can drive development.

Investments in family planning create a reinforcing cycle of empowerment, supporting healthy, educated and economically productive women and families. A person’s ability to plan the timing and size of his or her family closely determines the realization of other rights.

Unfortunately, the right to family planning is one that many have had to fight for, and still today, despite the strong global rights and development frameworks that support it, it still requires more vigorous advocacy and broader support.

Fortunate in the Philippines there is already strong support for family planning. The Responsibly Parenthood and Reproductive Health law was passed in 2012 and the full implementation of the law is a cornerstone of the Duterte Administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. Given this the Philippines has perhaps the best opportunity it has ever had in its history to significantly reduce the unmet need for family planning provided that budgets are set aside to fully fund implementation and provided that programmes themselves are fully implemented.

There is however a risk that one population group in the Philippines is left behind, namely teenagers.

In the Philippines, one in ten teenagers 15-19 years old is already a mother, based on the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey. By the age of 19 4 out of 10 girls are either pregnant or already has one or more children.

What are the implications of becoming a mother early in life? It deprives a girl of the opportunity to enjoy the life of a teenager, free from any responsibilities other than taking care of her body and her future. Because of the need to give care to her child, an adolescent mother may have to stop schooling and consequently find herself in a difficult position to land a good job. 

Teenage pregnancy, therefore, robs a girl of a better future not only for herself but also for her children. This must be addressed. Not by moralizing and telling young people not to have sex, but by coming together around empowering young people to make informed decisions about their lives.

It is therefore encouraging to see that the legislative agenda of the National Government, as part of the Philippine Development Plan, includes addressing teenage pregnancy. It is equally encouraging to see that lawmakers want to enact legislation on teenage pregnancy. At present separate Teenage Pregnancy Prevention bills have already been filed in both Houses of Congress. We commend Congresswoman Sol Aragones and Senator Risa Hontiveros for their authorship of these bills and encourage other lawmakers to take their lead and work with Aragones and Hontiveros to enact the bills into law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While there are reasons to be optimistic in the case of the Philippines this is not the same all over the World.

Today, globally some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are currently not using safe and effective family planning methods. Most of these women with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in 69 of the poorest countries on earth. Fulfilling their unmet demand would save lives by averting 67 million unintended pregnancies around the world and reducing maternal deaths by one third of the estimated 303,000 maternal deaths that will occur in 2017.

This year’s World Population Day, 11 July, coincides with the London Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the consortium of governments, donors and stakeholders that make up the Family Planning 2020 initiative. At the Summit, governments, civil society, the business sector and other duty-bearers will take stock of progress and make commitments to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020.

I am extremely pleased to share with you that two of our business sector partners will be part of the commitment makers at the Summit. CARD-MRI, the biggest microfinance institution in the country, is committing more than $2 million up to 2020 to reach out and provide family planning information and services to at least 4 million Filipino women.

And Hamlin Industrial Corporation, the garments manufacturing factory that supplies high-end fashion products in the local market, and where Ms. Esparcia works, is committing to make the company family planning-friendly by making available family planning information and services to all its 6,000 employees.

Ultimately whether as private sector actors, like CARD-MRI and Hamlin, or local or national governments, like Quezon City and POPCOM, or NGOs, or development partners, like UNFPA, we’re all working together to make family planning accessible and realize our common goal of zero unmet need for family planning in the Philippines. We do this so women and girls, like Ms. Esparcia that I mentioned earlier, are able to realize their rights and in the process transform their lives, their communities and their country.

As the theme of today’s celebration put it: Family planning – Empowering People, Developing Nations that’s #HerFuture.

Maraming salamat po.

 

 

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Mae Esparcia an employee at Hamlin's garments factory.  (Photo by UNFPA)


4 July 2017

CAVITE, Philippines – Seven months ago, Mae Esparcia, 30, gave birth to her first child, Maria Carmen. After her delivery, Ms. Esparcia, a garments factory worker at Hamlin Industrial Corp. in Cavite, Philippines, decided to start using contraceptive pills, which she received for free – from her workplace.
“I’m taking the pills so that I avoid getting pregnant so soon after the birth of my daughter,” she told UNFPA, which is partnering with Hamlin to support the programme, part of efforts to expand access to family planning services in the Philippines.

Ms. Esparcia explained that her ability to plan the timing and size of her family is important to her. “If I were to have another child so that Maria Carmen has a brother or a sister, I’d like to wait five years before getting pregnant again.” 

Millions of other Filipino women would also like to plan the timing and the size of their family, but are not able to do so. In the Philippines, 18 per cent of married women have an unmet need for family planning — 7 per cent because they want to delay their next pregnancy and 11 per cent because they do not want more children, according to the 2013 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey. 
 

Rowena Alberto inspects garments at Hamlin's factory. (Photo by UNFPA)


UNFPA partners with Hamlin

Hamlin’s workplace family planning programme aims to support its 2,300 employees, 76 per cent of whom are women, by enabling access to family planning information, services and commodities. Since June 2015, UNFPA has mentored Hamlin’s programme managers and family planning trainers, and facilitated the adoption of the programme’s policies. Participation in the programme is entirely voluntary and confidential.  

In 2016, the programme enabled 88 per cent of workers, who have no plans of having kids to use modern family planning methods such as condoms, contraceptive pills, injectibles, intrauterine devices and implants. Similarly, the programme provided counselling to 92 per cent of women who gave birth in 2016, who then decided to use modern family planning methods.

Money matters

“I want my two children to have a good education and a good life,” said Rowena Alberto, 40, who has been using family planning services for 11 years. Like Ms. Esparcia, she inspects garments at Hamlin’s sprawling factory in Cavite, south of Manila. 

“Life can be hard. People earn just enough to take care of their family. You cannot do that if you’re getting pregnant every year,” she said. She went on to explain that it was initially her husband who suggested using family planning services. “He did not want a lot of children.” 
 

Jeffrey Austria irons garments at Hamlin's factory.  (Photo by UNFPA)


A lighter life 
This sentiment is shared by Jeffrey Austria, 29, who irons garments at Hamlin’s factory and has been using family planning services since January 2016. “It’s very stressful and difficult to have many children. Parents can get depressed,” said the father of two. “If you have fewer children you can support them and really give them a better life.” He wishes more people used family planning services to have a lighter life and at the same time be able to support their children. 

By the end of 2018, Hamlin aims to ensure all of its employees have access to family planning information through the provision of regular family planning education.

The success of Hamlin’s workplace family planning programme serves as a model for other companies who are looking to support and engage their employees in innovative and meaningful ways. 

On 11 July, UNFPA and the Philippine Government will celebrate World Population Day, which highlights how family planning can empower people and help develop nations. Innovative programmes, like workplace family planning services, can play an important role in expanding access to those who need it most.
 

For more information, please contact: Mario Villamor:  Tel: +63 917 302 6699; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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UNFPA dignity kits distributed to evacuees at Moneerah Integrated School evacuation center. (Photo by UNFPA)


20 June 2017

ILIGAN, Philippines – With weary but firm arms, Tarhata Mostare cradles her newborn child at the sprawling Buru-un School of Fisheries evacuation center in Iligan city. She sits on a handwoven mat at the evacuation center, which is hosting women, children and men displaced by the fighting between government forces and members affiliated with the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in neighboring Marawi city. 

Ms. Mostare, 19, gave birth to her third child in her home in Marawi on 23 May 2017, the same day violence erupted in the city. Three days after her delivery, she evacuated Marawi together with her husband and three children, making the journey on foot and riding jeepneys when possible. Despite her ordeal, she is grateful. “I was with a woman who had also just given birth, but she lost her child. I’m very grateful that my baby survived, and that we’re both strong,” she said. 

As a result of the humanitarian crisis gripping Marawi, Ms. Mostare and thousands of other pregnant women, mothers and girls face hardships and challenges impacting their sexual and reproductive health needs. They need urgent care and protection.

Of the more than 338,500 people displaced as of 18 June, based on data from the Disaster Response Operations and Monitoring Center (DROMIC) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), approximately 84,500 are women of reproductive age, with around 10,000 of them pregnant and around 6,700 lactating mothers with infants 0-6 months. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is supporting the Philippine Government’s response to the crisis.

Upon the request of the Department of Health (DOH), and with support from Australia, UNFPA deployed 5,000 dignity kits, for pregnant and lactating women and 1,200 packs of clean delivery kits for emergency deliveries. These dignity kits contain hygiene and protection items such as sanitary napkins, underwear, flashlights, whistle, soap and shampoo among others. The clean delivery kits are part of 12 reproductive health kits used during emergencies to ensure that women are able to deliver safely even in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

Evacuee Tarhata Mostare with children. (Photo by UNFPA)


Heroes amidst the crisis

“It has been challenging,” said midwife, Mitzie Belasio, 45, who has monitored the health of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children at the Maria Cristina evacuation center in Iligan city since May 26. Ms. Belasio is part of the Department of Health’s Rural Health Midwives Placement Program (RHMPP), which recruits health professionals to complement the existing workforce of the rural health units.  “It’s my first time to be deployed in an evacuation center, but I enjoy the work. It is my profession,” she said.

Sitting at the facility’s health station, which offers vaccines and vitamins, Ms. Belasio went on to explain some of the challenges to providing care. There are language barriers. “Many of the evacuees do not understand us and we don’t understand them,” she said. “As a provider, we have to continuously have patience, counsel and make them feel that we are there to help,” she added.

UNFPA dignity kits distributed to evacuees at  Buru-un gym. (Photo by UNFPA)


Looking to the future

“We hope the fighting ends soon,” said Maria Gina Cabanlit, 53, a member of the Women Welfare Program at the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) office at the Maria Cristina evacuation center. There is growing uncertainty over the prolonged displacement of thousands of people, including pregnant women. “In the beginning we received a lot of donations at the evacuation center, but as time passed it has declined,” she added. For new mothers such as Ms. Mostare and for pregnant women affected by the crisis, access to reproductive health services remains critical to their survival as well as their children’s.

For more information, please contact: Mario Villamor:  Tel: +63 917 302 6699; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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The signing of the JMC on the MISP for SRH in Emergencies. (Photo by DOH-HEMB)


Exposure to hazards has turned generation after generation of Filipinos into one of the most resilient people in the world. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the east and sitting along the Pacific Rim of Fire, the Philippines - with its population of 102 million - currently ranks third highest in the world in disaster risk according to the 2016 World Risk Report. In times of emergency and disaster, women - especially pregnant mothers - and girls, become more vulnerable to a range of health and social risks.

Pregnancy complications due to lack of emergency obstetric care may arise, potentially leading to maternal or neonatal deaths. Family planning services may not be fully accessible, increasing the risks associated with unplanned pregnancies. Sexual violence as well as other forms of gender-based violence mostly affecting women and young people also increases during times of instability.

In the Philippines, the 2009 Magna Carta of Women and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012 provides for the protection of women and girls and ensures their access to sexual and reproductive health services during times of crises through the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Emergencies (MISP for SRH). In February 2016, the Philippine Department of Health took the initiative to launch a department-wide policy that sets the guidelines for all stakeholders in implementing the MISP for SRH, which includes defining the core package of services covered, as well as the implementing mechanism for rolling this out on the ground and down to the communities.

This defining policy went ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit held in May 2016, making the policy environment within the health sector set for the full implementation of the MISP for SRH. The World Humanitarian Summit, however, provided a wider space for member-countries (such as the Philippines), and the UN (through the United Nations Population Fund) to further deepen their shared commitment towards advancing and protecting sexual and reproductive health rights especially in crisis settings.

The Philippine Government further showed its resolve to fully implement the MISP for SRH with the signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular in December 2016, providing an interagency policy for a more cohesive strategy among four key national agencies (the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Office for Civil Defense) in the implementation of the MISP for SRH, from the national level down to the communities. This allows the four agencies to leverage on their distinct, yet complementing roles in both the preparedness and response phases of an emergency. The policy further requires the integration of the MISP for SRH into the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan as well as into the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plans of local government units.

Technical assistance from UNFPA in the form of capacity development activities helped ensure not just the integration of sound implementation practices, but also sealed-in national ownership of the policy-making process and the policy itself.

“The signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular shows that our partners from the Philippine Government are going full speed ahead towards realizing its commitment at the World Humanitarian Summit,” Klaus Beck, UNFPA Country Representative in the Philippines says of UNFPA’s partnership with the Philippine Government. “What proved key to the speedy drafting of the policy was the ownership of the process by the government agencies involved. This is essential in making sure that the policy is internalized cohesively across agencies, as this is rolled out from the national level down to the local government units,” Beck adds.

With support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), UNFPA has just completed the capacity development of regional staff from the four government agencies on the MISP for SRH. The MISP Training of Trainers were held in the island regions, with the Mindanao leg completed in March, while the training in the Luzon and the Visayas were concluded in April and May, respectively.

"The next phase is localization. While capacity building of our partners is always the first step, we cannot rest until we have trained the LGU staff - the frontliners at the local level, and have institutionalized these trainings so that the Philippines will have the continuing capacity to respond to the reproductive health needs of communities affected by disasters, as well as prevent and address gender-based violence during emergencies," Beck says.


Training of Trainers on the MISP for SRH in Emergencies. (Photo by UNFPA)




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MANILA, Philippines, 9 June 2017— UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and Vende Pte. Ltd. have entered into an agreement to raise awareness of violence against women in the Philippines.
 
Despite being touted as one the countries with the best measure of gender equality in the world, and the highest in Asia, the Philippines remains plagued with issues of violence against women. While government laws, policies and recovery facilities for survivors are critical, continuous awareness-raising for women, men, and young people on women’s rights and gender issues is crucial for the prevention of violence against women.
  
Tech Startup, Vende launched in the Philippines in late 2016 with a mission to promote economic empowerment through mobile technology. The startup’s free app allows Filipinos to earn an income by promoting a range of products through social media, including a GPS Smartwatch designed to keep parents informed of their child’s whereabouts. The wristwatch for children has a built-in GPS Tracker, allowing parents to synchronize their mobile phones with the watch.
 
Between, 1 May 2017 to 1 May 2018, Vende will donate 3 percent of the sale price for every Smartwatch sold. Money raised will help UNFPA support capacity building exercises for women for the prevention and response to gender-based violence in emergencies or for the provision of livelihood projects for women victim-survivors of violence in safe havens.
 
“Our partnership with Vende affirms UNFPA’s belief in the capacity of the private sector to play a pivotal role in empowering women and girls and raising awareness of the violence against them. This partnership allows us to reach more victims of violence and at the same time prevent others from becoming victims themselves. We look forward to building more partnerships in the future to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Klaus Beck, UNFPA Country Representative.
 
“Recognizing the important role of women in society, our partnership with UNFPA offers us a chance to support women and girls. Mothers are one of our growing users and the GPS smartwatch offers them peace of mind, while at the same time, supporting UNFPA projects that raise awareness of violence against women,” said Peter Ing, Chief Operating Officer of Vende.
 

 
***
 
 
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
 
 
For more information on participating in this initiative or media inquiries please contact:
Mario Villamor; Tel:  +63 917 302 6699; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Jeanifer Bilango; Tel: +63 917 132 9981; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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5 June 2017

UNITED NATIONS— With profound sadness, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, announces that its Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, passed away suddenly at his home last night.  He was 68 years old.

“This is a devastating loss for UNFPA and for the people, especially women, girls and youth, he dedicated his life to serving, starting from when he became a doctor in Nigeria. UNFPA expresses its deep sympathy to his family and prays that they have the fortitude to bear this great loss,” said UNFPA management.  

“Dr. Osotimehin was bold and never afraid of a challenge and his strong leadership helped keep the health and rights of the world’s women and girls high on the global agenda. He understood that the world’s 1.8 billion young people are truly its greatest hope for the future.”

UNFPA is dedicated to continuing Dr. Osotimehin’s grand vision for women and young people and will continue to stand up for the human rights and dignity of everyone, particularly the most vulnerable adolescent girls.

He vigorously championed three major transformative goals of zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning and the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls. UNFPA urges all to honour his legacy by rallying around those global goals.

Dr. Osotimehin, a physician and public health expert, became UNFPA’s fourth Executive Director on 1 January 2011, with the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.

Before this appointment, Dr. Osotimehin was Nigeria’s Minister of Health. Prior to that, he was Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, which coordinated HIV and AIDS work in Nigeria.
 
Dr. Osotimehin qualified as a doctor from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1972, and went to the University of Birmingham, England, where he got a doctorate in medicine in 1979. He was appointed Professor at the University of Ibadan in 1980 and headed the Department of Clinical Pathology before being elected Provost of the College of Medicine in 1990. Dr. Osotimehin received the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger in December 2005. He led several councils, including in the World Economic Forum.

He was married, had five children and several grandchildren.

A book of condolences has been set up at the United Nations Visitors Entrance at 46th Street and 1st Avenue. Condolences can also be shared at Dr. Osotimehin's Facebook page.

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Statement of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, 23 May 2017

Over the past year, I followed the total transformation of two women’s lives. Alice, from Malawi, was successfully treated for obstetric fistula at the age of 83, after living with this terrible and treatable condition for 66 years. Jumwa, from Kenya, was treated at the age of 77, after living with fistula for 50 years. I have no words to describe the sense of hope, healing, and restored dignity that this treatment provided, first and foremost to these two women, but also to their loved ones.

While these are stories of hope, they are also stories of a tragedy – the tragedy being that both women ever suffered from fistula in the first place. They should never have endured the decades of discomfort and shame that could have been so easily prevented. 

The time has come to put an end to this suffering wherever it occurs.

The theme of this year’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, “Hope, healing, and dignity for all”, is, at its heart, a call to realize the fundamental human rights of all women and girls everywhere, with a special focus on those most left behind, excluded and shunned by society.

Ending fistula is a high priority for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and it is a key step on the road to achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

Fistula has been virtually eliminated in the world’s wealthier countries, so we know that it can be eliminated in every country. Strong health systems and greater efforts to address the underlying issues that perpetuate it, including poverty, gender inequality, early marriage and childbearing, and lack of education, are crucial.

Working with our partners in the Campaign to End Fistula, we have made progress towards eliminating fistula through prevention, treatment and social reintegration. UNFPA has supported more than 85,000 fistula repair surgeries since 2003, and more than 15,000 cases in 2016 alone.

But much more needs to be done. More than two million women still live with the condition, and 50,000 to 100,000 develop fistula every year. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. With strong political leadership, investment and action, we can end this scourge in our lifetime.  

Please join us in standing with the world’s poorest, most marginalized women and girls. Together, I am confident that we mobilize the support and commitment needed to transform their lives into stories of hope and healing and rid the world of fistula once and for all.

***
 

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Across Asia and the Pacific violent conflict and extremism continue to pose serious challenges to sustainable development and security. Since 1992, 26 subnational conflicts have affected at least half the countries in the region. In the Philippines, long-lasting armed conflict in Mindanao and other parts of the country have negatively affected families and communities for decades. 

Ending protracted armed conflicts often requires long-term social and structural change at all levels. Today, the Asia-Pacific region is home to over 700 million youth, or 60% of the world’s young people between the ages of 15 and 24. This unprecedented demographic offers enormous opportunities for the region to harness new ideas and innovations, new ways of building peace.

Across the region, young people are already working with conflict-affected communities to end violence and transform conflict relationships. It is crucial to work with and promote the voices and actions of young people to ensure that peacebuilding processes are inclusive and transformative, especially at grassroots levels.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on Youth, Peace & Security, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 16-19 May 2017, will consult young people from the region on peace and security issues, in order to provide a regional perspective for the successful implementation of UNSCR 2250(2015), to gather inputs for the Progress Study mandated by the Resolution (including the gathering of evidence on innovative peacebuilding in the region), and to create an action plan for the continuation, and promotion, of peacebuilding and social cohesion efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region. Philippine participants to the consultation include: 

Mia Franczesca Diesta Estipona
Generation Peace

Mia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies, majoring in international politics with a minor in peace studies from Miriam College, Philippines. She is currently the advocacy and networking officer of Generation Peace Youth Network (GenPeace), which focuses on peacebuilding in the Philippines and human rights advocacy. “On behalf of the network that I am representing, we want to share the collective effort and experiences of Generation Peace to ensure the participation and rightful representation of youth in peacebuilding,” said Mia. 


   
  Mark Vincent David Lim
National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP)

Mark Vincent Lim is a graduating development studies student at the University of the Philippines Manila.  From 2015-2016, he served as the chairperson of the UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences student council. Currently, he is the national spokesperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the national convener of the Rise for Education Alliance in the Philippines.

“I am looking forward to share to the regional consultation the state of the armed conflict that has been ongoing in the Philippines for almost five decades and the consequences it has caused especially to the youth. I would also like to share the updates on the ongoing formal peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) that seeks to address the roots of the armed conflict.”

   
Mohd Nizam    Apna Aggah
Zamboanga Community-Based Child Protection Network

Nizam is a member of Zamboanga community-based Child Protection Network. He started his journey on promoting child rights and participation in 2015 when he and his family survived the Zamboanga siege. He uses his skill in theater arts to advocate proper hygiene, cleanliness, peace, harmony and unity, and preparedness to various calamities, and HIV/AIDS. He is now back in school as a student leader and still active on being peer facilitator promoting adolescent life skills using UNICEF module called Usap Tayo (Let’s Talk): Creating Connections Module.

   

Further information on the consultation is available here. For more information and to get involved with the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in the Asia-Pacific Region, please join our dedicated regional group (sign-in required).

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Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin for the International Day of the Midwife, 5 May 2017
 
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, celebrates the heroic and life-saving work that midwives do every day, often in very trying circumstances. Thanks to midwives, millions of women each year are able to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning. These services help ensure wanted, healthy pregnancies and safe births.
 
Yet, far too many women lack access to these services. As a result, each year more than 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, some 3 million babies do not survive the first month of life, and another two and a half million babies are stillborn. Most of them could have been saved by the care of well-trained midwives within the framework of strong health systems.
 
UNFPA strongly supports the training and work of midwives in more than 100 countries. Since 2009, UNFPA has worked with partners to support over 600 midwifery schools, educating more than 80,000 midwives. We have also strengthened national midwifery associations in 75 countries and helped enhance the regulatory framework for midwifery practice to ensure accountability.
 
This year’s theme of the International Day of the Midwife, “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!”, underscores the critical role midwives play. Midwives save lives, support and promote healthy families, and empower women and couples to choose whether, when and how often to have children. They also help avert sexually transmitted infections and prevent disabilities like obstetric fistula, mother-to-child transmission of HIV and female genital mutilation.
 
Preventing maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities and empowering women to make informed, healthy choices and exercise their rights is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. To make this happen, we need to expand midwifery programmes, maintaining the highest global standards, and promote an enabling environment for midwives to effectively serve the needs of women and their families.
 
On this day, I urge all governments and development partners to join UNFPA in supporting midwives so more women survive and they, their families and communities thrive.
 
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Vice President Leni Robredo and UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck sign Memorandum of Understanding. (Photo by OVP)


The Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) signed a memorandum of understanding as partners for women empowerment, under the anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay on Tuesday morning (May 2 2017) at the Office of the Vice-President in Quezon City.
 
The OVP and UNFPA come together for the Babaenihan campaign to empower Filipinas, with the objective of reaching out to marginalized girls and women throughout the country.
 
The Babaenihan campaign focuses on raising awareness on potential challenges of Filipino girls, strengthening LGU involvement in empowering women, sharing good practices on reproductive health, and gender-based violence prevention and response. 
 
This OVP-UNFPA partnership aims to achieve sustainable development goals by ensuring that all women's rights including reproductive health are protected, that they are able to find decent work, and that they are able to contribute to the sustainable economic growth of the country.
 


Vice President Leni Robredo and UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck (Photo by OVP).

 
“We look forward to working with the Office of the Vice President to empower girls and women so that no one is left behind,” said UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck. “Empowering the 10 million Filipino girls aged 10-19 years old to realize their full potential, is critical to the Philippines’ social and economic development,” Beck said.
 
The Angat Buhay program of the OVP brings together partners from the public and private sectors and marginalized communities. Partnerships focus on issues concerning, education, universal healthcare, rural development, food security and nutrition, housing and resettlement, and women empowerment.