Population and Women Programme

The Women and Population portfolio is comprised of 62 ongoing projects implemented by 10 United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies (as of 31 December 2005). The primary implementing partners in the portfolio are the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Other United Nations partners include the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Projects in the women and population portfolio seek foster a supportive environment for adolescent girls and women by improving social and economic opportunities, increasing access to reproductive health information and services and reducing gender-based violence. Another area of focus in the portfolio is working to increase the capacity of countries to develop and effectively implement the procurement and supply management of critical drugs and diagnostics for comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment.

Young women in Africa aged 15 to 24 are two and a half times more likely to be infected by HIV/AIDS than young men of the same age. With the rapid spread of the epidemic in Africa, young married girls are now the group most vulnerable to infection by older, sexually active husbands. Therefore, reversing this trend and providing protection for adolescent girls is of critical importance. To address this challenge, the United Nations Foundation and UNFIP are collaborating with the Ethiopian Government, UNFPA, the Nike Foundation, the Population Council and local and international NGOs to highlight the dangers of early marriage through a country-focused advocacy and services initiative in three cities in Ethiopia. In Amhara, the project seeks to protect and support married adolescent girls and unmarried girls at risk of early marriage, while in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, the project seeks to protect and support vulnerable migrant girls at risk of exploitation.

The United Nations Foundation/UNFIP initiative entitled "Meeting the reproductive health needs of tsunami-affected women" was developed in response to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of December 2004. This project, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, seeks to provide basic reproductive health and safe motherhood services to the most affected areas of Nanggröe Aceh Darussalam province in Indonesia. As part of this project, UNFPA was able to support the re-establishment of these critical services in the province's hospitals.

In another tsunami relief initiative in Sri Lanka, funded by the Zonta International Foundation, UNFPA is working to reduce and prevent violence against women. UNFPA is assisting the Sri Lankan Government at the national, district and local levels to establish mechanisms to increase the security of women and girls and limit or eliminate the situations that put them at risk. The project also aims to support measures to change knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence against women.

The United Nations Foundation/UNFIP project entitled "Prevention of gender-based violence among Sudanese refugees in Chad" was developed in response to the humanitarian crisis in and around Darfur, Sudan. The project, funded by the Zonta International Foundation and managed by UNFPA, seeks to support the prevention of gender-based violence in the Oure Cassoni camp, which is the northernmost and second largest of the Sudanese refugee camps in eastern Chad. The project also aims to reduce the stigmatization that victims of sexual assault suffer while raising awareness in the camp of the negative impacts that gender-based violence has on women, their families and the wider community.

In another United Nations Foundation/UNFIP initiative, WHO is working to increase the capacity of countries to procure and manage the supply of critical HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostics. The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program for Africa provide grants to countries for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, but the lack of capacity of countries to effectively develop and implement the procurement and supply management component is often an obstacle to making these grants available to countries. To address this problem, WHO will provide the necessary technical assistance.