Women in orange uniforms, work with machinery on the street.

The UNFPA initiative aims to eliminate the degrading and hazardous practice of manual cleaning of public sewer systems and help the women employed gain financial independence. 

Young women of African descent in class

The Youth Leadership School for young people of African descent in the Latin America and Caribbean region seeks to strengthen young people’s technical and entrepreneurial skills. Around the world, people are finding new ways to remove the barriers to fundamental rights. By blending tech solutions with the wisdom and knowledge of UNFPA’s network of partners, these innovations are changing lives, at scale. UNFPA is partnering with innovators to accelerate progress for women and girls. More in this collection of stories.

A mother nuzzles her baby whilst wearing a mask.

If 2020 was defined by the pandemic, 2021 was to be the year of the vaccine. Yet, the promise of a world returning to normal remains beyond reach – and for some entirely elusive. With the close of another year, an uncertain one beckons. Still, these seemingly insurmountable challenges were stared down by health workers, humanitarians, families and survivors. Pictured is a mother with her baby at a UNFPA-supported health facility in Venezuela. To help remind us of the everyday but extraordinary heroism shown by those working to secure the health and rights of their community, you can see more of UNFPA's favourite photos of the year here.

woman with bodyright (b) symbol on her neck

The Internet can be a hateful, hostile place, particularly for women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities, who are more likely to have their images abused online. Online misogyny and violence is a widespread human rights violation. This is why UNFPA is launching bodyright, a brand new “copyright” for the human body. It demands that images of our bodies are given the same respect and protection online as copyright gives to music, film and even corporate logos. Claim your bodyright...and let’s end online violence.

An image of shattered glass that reads “The Virtual is Real”

Just as gender-based violence takes on many insidious forms, so does digital gender-based violence: image-based abuse aka non-consensual sharing of intimate images or “revenge porn”, cyberstalking, online harassment, sextortion, online trafficking, doxxing. The perpetrator could be a stranger on another continent or someone next door targeting sexuality against her. Marginalized groups, including people with disabilities and LGBTQI individuals, may be even more vulnerable. UNFPA presents the stories of survivors during the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence campaign.

group of Yemeni people standing under incomplete shelter

Yemen lays tragic claim to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and aid operation. Two-thirds of the population, or 20.7 million people, need humanitarian assistance in 2021. Multiple emergencies have pummeled the country: violent conflict, an economic blockade, currency collapse, flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic in a country where only half of health facilities are operational. One woman dies every two hours during childbirth, an almost entirely preventable tragedy. More than a million pregnant and breastfeeding women are already acutely malnourished.

mother and baby lying on blanket

Désir Murielle gave birth to her son, Yves, in a tent on the grounds of Hôpital de Référence Communautaire de l’Asile, which was damaged in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake of 14 August. The hospital is one of 18 damaged or destroyed health facilities receiving support from UNFPA to continue offering reproductive health services in the area most affected by the disaster. Next month, with the support of the Ministry of Health, UNFPA will deploy a fully-fledged mobile emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) unit to handle deliveries and obstetric complications. 

Illustration of a young woman

More than 217 million women and girls in the world who want to avoid getting pregnant aren’t using effective contraceptives. UNFPA helps countries increase access to voluntary family planning.

family at site of burned down home

In July 2021, the Al-Ashur family tent burned down in the Om Elhadage internally displaced persons camp in Marib, home to 150 people. The Al-Ashurs – a grandfather, two parents and 7 children – had come to the camp when fighting near their home close to the front lines intensified, forcing them to leave. The family slept in the open air until a UNFPA-led Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) team, while distributing emergency relief, volunteered to help rebuild the family’s temporary home, completing it in 48 hours.

The profile of a woman using a head veil

The progress Afghanistan has made in increasing freedom and rights and dramatically lowering maternal mortality must not be erased or eroded. UNFPA is on the ground in Afghanistan working with its partners to ensure access to life-saving reproductive health and protection services at community, village and district levels and in camps. Guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, UNFPA is committed to delivering in Afghanistan, with our response grounded in our mission to uphold the rights of girls and women.

smiling mother and baby

During a pregnancy complication at 7 months, Ami Campini was transported to the Regional Hospital of Buba, Guinea-Bissau and delivered a 1.3-kilogram baby girl via emergency Caesarean section. 

woman and girl walking through drought-stricken land

No one escapes the harrowing, heartbreaking consequences of climate change, and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance will double by 2030 because of it. This isn’t a competition on who suffers most when nature responds violently to the abuses perpetrated by mankind. But vulnerable and marginalized groups like women – who make up the majority of the global poor and whose livelihoods are largely dependent on natural resources among other risk factors – are exposed to particular calamities.

Monks wearing facemasks sit at a table with notebooks.

By partnering with local religious leaders, UNFPA contributes to thousands of young people being taught how to improve interpersonal relationships and lead healthier lifestyles.

The consequences of climate change spare no one. The devastating effects are widespread. During climate crises, gender-based violence increases. Rates of child marriage rise. Maternal and birth outcomes worsen. We must work together to end the climate crisis. UNFPA calls to defend our shared planet and help protect the most vulnerable.


Who decides whether or when you can have sex? Watch what people on the streets of Paris had to say and join the conversation. As the Generation Equality Forum drew leaders and activists from around the world, UNFPA highlights the critical importance of realizing bodily autonomy for all.