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"There are no sensitive issues in reproductive health, but there are insensitive approaches to reproductive health issues."
Mona Khalifa, Assistant Representative

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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.

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Country Representative Klaus Beck talks to ANC’s Annalisa Burgos on how the U.S. Decision to withhold funding to UNFPA affects its activities in the Philippines. 

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4 April 2017

UNITED NATIONS, New York. —UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, regrets the decision by the United States to deny any future funding for its life-saving work the world over. This decision is based on the erroneous claim that UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization” in China. UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination. Indeed, United Nations Member States have long described UNFPA’s work in China as a force for good.

The United States, one of our founding members, has long partnered with UNFPA to protect and promote the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, thereby fostering healthier women and girls and their families. The support we received over the years from the Government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities, and especially now in the rapidly developing global humanitarian crises. With previous United States contributions, UNFPA was combatting gender-based violence and reducing the scourge of maternal deaths in the world’s most fragile settings, in areas of conflict and natural disasters, including Iraq, Nepal, Sudan, Syria, the Philippines, Ukraine and Yemen.

We have always valued the United States as a trusted partner and leader in helping to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. We, therefore, look forward to continuing our work with the United States to address these global concerns and to restore our strong partnership to save the lives of women and girls globally, within the framework of the global development goals, thereby leaving no one behind.

 

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The UNFPA is one with the country in mourning the loss of former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

The Shahani-Ramos families lost a dear bastion of light and inspiration, and the Philippines - a pioneering and staunch advocate of population, development, and human rights. Many, many generations of Filipino women and adolescent girls are enjoying their rights as they do now because of the invaluable contribution of Senator Ramos-Shahani in advancing these rights; and many, many more Filipino women and adolescent girls may miss future opportunities in furthering these rights, as Senator Ramos-Shahani leave policymakers, development workers, and the civil society bereft of her fearless guidance.

In 1996, the United Nations bestowed on her the United Nations Population Award, recognizing her more than 30 years of leadership in the field of population. For all the trailblazing influence she made in the Philippine Congress which paved the way for the creation of the Commission on Population and the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, the Philippines now sees itself steadily progressing towards the full recognition of reproductive health rights as human rights.

The loss of Senator Ramos-Shahani will always be profoundly felt. For us at the UNFPA, her legacy can only be honored by the organization’s unwavering commitment to stand up for the same rights she has always fought for, until every Filipino woman and adolescent girl count.

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12 January 2017
Statement on Executive Order No. 12



The Executive Order No. 12 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte supporting the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law is a major push for the government’s family planning program, which has been hindered by various challenges to the implementation of the landmark law.

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, remains fully committed to supporting the government and civil society partners on this effort. UNFPA has been working with local governments in ensuring that access to quality reproductive health services, including family planning, will be available especially for the poorest and disadvantaged communities who need these services most.

“The full and immediate implementation of the RPRH Law is critically important for the government to deliver on its family planning program, which has been identified by President Duterte as one of his priorities when he assumed office,” said Klaus Beck, UNFPA Country Representative.

The EO contributes to the Philippines’ commitment to fulfilling the 2030 sustainable development agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whose aim is ultimately to leave no one behind, especially the most vulnerable.

“The RPRH Law is a fundamental component to a comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation and human development in the Philippines, and is critical to realizing reproductive rights, including the right to choose freely and responsible if and when to have children, reducing maternal mortality and the realization of the development goals on health, gender and poverty,” Mr. Beck added.

The President’s order will lend new momentum to the implementation of the RPRH Law as it demonstrates the highest level of support to the measure. The EO also clearly defines the role of various government units in enforcing the law and provides clear instructions on the funding needed to implement it, as well as the accountability mechanism to ensure that the RPRH Law and the EO are implemented. All of this will boost RPRH law implementation.

Concerns remain however with one key challenge to the full implementation of the law being the Philippine Supreme Court's temporary restraining order related to the registration and certification of contraceptives. The order has been in effect for more than a year now and UNFPA hopes that it can be lifted as soon as possible in order to avoid adverse impact on the supply of contraceptives in the country.

UNFPA also hopes that the EO will form part of a comprehensive and holistic effort by the government and people of the Philippines toward the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development based on the protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all the people of the Philippines.

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The State of World Population 2016

 

UNFPA’s State of World Population 2016 report shows that empowering today’s 10-year-old girls could yield huge demographic and economic dividends and build better societies.

 

Manila, 20 October 2016 — HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and child labour are undermining girls’ health, rights and opportunities and threaten the world’s new and ambitious development agenda, warns UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in The State of World Population 2016, released today.

Practices that harm girls and violate their human rights--starting at age 10--prevent them from realizing their full potential as adults and from contributing to the economic and social progress of their communities and nations. Without their contribution, the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals may never be achieved.

“Impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and fulfilling adulthood is a violation of her rights,” says Klaus Beck UNFPA Representative in the Philippines. “But it also takes a toll on her community and nation. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealized, we all lose.”

Girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact could triple their lifetime incomes, thereby fueling progress for generations and entire nations, the report states.

“By ensuring the over 1 million 10 year-old girls in the Philippines get the tools, know-how and opportunities they need to meet their potential, they could each earn over 45 per cent more over the next 15 years,” notes UNFPA’s Beck.

Ten is a pivotal age for girls everywhere, as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices on her education and later life. But elsewhere, girls are seen as commodities to be bought, sold or traded, the UNFPA report shows. She may be forced to marry, pulled out of school and forced to bear children and begin a life of servitude.

“In the Philippines, teenage pregnancy limits far too many girls’ hopes, dreams and aspirations. It also costs the country around P33 billion each year in foregone earnings,” says UNFPA’s Beck.

“By ensuring girls right to education, including age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services and advice, we could improve the lives of hundreds of thousands, reap long term gains, and help ensure the success of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The new development agenda, endorsed by world leaders in 2015, is global blueprint peace, prosperity and a sustainable future to 2030, leaving no one behind. Removing the barriers that hold 10-year-old girls back today will help make sure the agenda is a success, the report argues.

The State of World Population report notes that of the 125 million 10-year-olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move through adolescence into adulthood. Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.

The challenge now, the UNFPA reports argues, is to scale up these interventions to reach more girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by age 10.

“How we invest in and support 10-year-old girls today will determine what our world will look like in 2030,” notes UNFPA’s Klaus Beck. “With support from family, community and nation, and the full realization of her rights, a 10-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future we all want.”

Key global statistics
  • Nine out of 10 10-year-old girls live in developing countries, and one in five lives in a least developed country: one in five is in India, and one in eight in China.
  • Each year of education delivers an additional 11.7 per cent uplift in wages in later life for girls (compared with 9.6 per cent for men). Yet, 16 million girls between 6 and 11 will never start school. That’s twice the number of boys.
  • If all the 10-year-old girls who drop out of school or do not attend school in developing countries completed secondary education, they would trigger a $21 billion annual dividend.
  • More than half of the world’s 65 million 10-year-old girls live in the 48 countries with the worst gender inequality.
  • Ten per cent of 5-to-14 year-old girls do more than 28 hours of household chores per week, twice that of boys. Three in four girl labourers are unpaid.
  • Every day, an estimated 47,700 girls are married before 18. 


Key national statistics

  • There are over 1 million 10-year old Filipino girls. If their rights and needs are met, they could earn almost 45% more over the next 15 years.
  • Investing in and empowering the over 1 million Filipino 10 year-old girls today and over the next 15 years could boost GDP by almost 13% of today’s GDP.
  • By age 19, 4 in 10 girls in the Philippines are – or will soon be – mothers.
  • P33 billion in earnings are foregone each year through teenage pregnancy. That’s over 1% of GDP (2012)

 
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. 

For more information, please contact: Matthew Taylor:  Tel: +63 906 474 9730; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Respect, equality and cultural sensitivity:

Boosting maternal health among Mindanao’s indigenous communities


Remarks by UNFPA Philippines Representative Klaus Beck at the closure of the project: ‘addressing maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition needs of indigenous people and indigenous cultural communities and other disadvantaged communities in Mindanao (IPMNCHN).

Montevista, 11 October 2016 
 

Good morning.

 

Today marks a huge milestone for us all, as we close a superb project that has brought quality maternal care to thousands more women and girls, empowered a range of indigenous communities, and helped save hundreds of newborn and mother lives.

Under the leadership of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Health, and with generous support from the European Union, we’ve reached over 117,000 people with advice on family planning and pregnancy, including 8000 pregnant and lactating women across Mindanao.

And since January 2013, 81 health fairs across 10 indigenous areas have reached over 7,200 women with prenatal care, family planning and reproductive health services.

We’ve helped to train doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers on family planning, emergency obstetrics, gender and reproductive health.

We’ve equipped two community health and birthing stations with fully trained staff, and provided 12 sets of birthing facility equipment to the project sites.

And we’ve run communications campaigns to encourage people to use the new services, to improve their own health and to tackle teenage pregnancy in indigenous and disadvantaged communities. 

The list goes on.

But behind every single statistic - are thousands of real people’s lives that have been made better through your work.

People like Gillian, a 25 year old mother of one from the Dibabawon Indigenous group living in Barangay Camansi. 

After having her first child, Gillian, in consultation with the new community care workers, used family planning to space her births better. 

She wanted to earn more money to add to her husband’s income as a labourer before having another child.

Her son recently started school, and she wants him to be able to keep going with his education, and go all the way to university - if that’s what he wants.

Gillian is now 5 months pregnant with her second child.

Thanks to a new birthing facility and a community health programme nearby, she won’t be forced to make a long journey to ensure a safe birth this time around. 

And with quality services nearby, she is far less likely to die through childbirth.

With family planning options and advice now available, she can stick to her family’s financial plan to save enough cash to ensure her children get the opportunities that she never had. 

Gillian’s story is just one of thousands. Many more indigenous women and girls are now more healthy and productive, and better able to plan their way out of poverty, thanks to your work. 

And looking forward to the next generation, we could soon have a huge, skilled set of graduates to propel themselves, their families and their communities towards a more prosperous and equitable future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In the past, Indigenous groups like Gillian’s have often been a low priority for support. Many also faced discrimination and barriers to accessing key services like health and education. 

By working with indigenous leaders, supporting local businesses and helping almost 11,500 indigenous people get birth certificates, this project has helped to change that. 

With birth certificates, people can now access healthcare, the national insurance system and schools. They can get bank accounts to plan their finances. And whilst safeguarding and celebrating your traditional cultures, you can benefit from the some of the best of non-traditional life as well.

In this sense, the project has truly helped to advance the global vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – that of leaving no-one behind. 

Looking forward, it will be up to the Indigenous Peoples’ Leaders, local LGU partners, the National Commission on Indigenous People and the Department of Health to drive forward the success we’ve seen under the project. 

I sincerely hope that the structures, training methodologies and communications activities are institutionalized into the local and regional planning systems. 

Similarly, the project has, and should continue to generate a wealth of useful data for sound policymaking in tackling maternal deaths, service provision and poverty reduction. 

I personally, and UNFPA as a whole, is proud, honoured and delighted to have been part of this life-changing project. 

And I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the European Union, the National Commission on Indigenous People and the Department of Health for their confidence in allowing us to be part of this.

As always, UNFPA is on hand to assist and advise as best we can in future. 

If there is one clear message from our shared work with and for indigenous communities, it is this:

Safer births and family planning build stronger, empowered communities. And ultimately a more prosperous and equitable nation. 

Thank you very much ug Maayong Hapon sa atoang tanan.