Promoting and protecting fundamental human rights, including reproductive rights, are at the core of all UNFPA activities. This is one of the reasons the Fund places priority on reaching those in the greatest need, whether because of poverty, marginalization, emergencies, age, sex, ethnicity or health status.
A strong emphasis on the human rights, including reproductive rights, of individual women and men underpins all of UNFPA's work and its way of working. Promoting and protecting human rights, including reproductive rights, of women and men requires considerable cultural fluency because UNFPA works in some of the most sensitive and intimate spheres of human existence, including sexuality, gender relations and population issues. Since 2002, UNFPA has emphasized the integration of culturally sensitive approaches into programming efforts. Toward this end, it has worked closely within communities and with local agents of change, including religious leaders and faith-based organizations.
About a quarter of the world's people are between the ages of 10 and 24. UNFPA promotes and protects the rights of this important generation of young people, particularly adolescent girls, and works towards a world in which girls and boys have optimal opportunities to develop their full potential, to express themselves freely and have their views respected, and to live free of HIV, poverty, discrimination and violence
UNFPA's 'four keys' to opening up opportunities for young people include incorporating youth issues into national development and poverty reduction strategies; expanding access to gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health education that encourages the development of life skills; promoting a core package of health services and commodities for young people; and encouraging youth leadership and participation.
The contribution of UNFPA to the global response to AIDS is shaped by its mandate to reduce poverty, eliminate gender inequality and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health. As a co-sponsor of UNAIDS and under the UNAIDS division of labour, UNFPA focuses its response on HIV prevention among young people, women and marginalized groups, including within the context of sex work. It supports comprehensive programming for male and female condoms and advocates for the linking and integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV policies, programmes and services. UNFPA ensures that family planning and maternal health services meet the needs of women living with HIV. This includes interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission and support for confidential voluntary HIV testing and counselling.
UNFPA also works in many contexts, including humanitarian and post-conflict situations, toward the elimination of gender-based violence and prevention of HIV.
In times of upheaval, pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar. Reproductive health and obstetric services often become unavailable. Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation. Too often, the special needs of women and young people are overlooked in humanitarian emergencies.
Within the coordinated, inter-agency response to disasters, UNFPA takes the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health, with an emphasis on the special needs and vulnerabilities of women and young people. Both groups can figure prominently in rebuilding peace or communities.
UNFPA supports various data collection activities, including censuses to provide detailed information for planning and rapid health assessments to allow for appropriate, effective and efficient relief. It also assists stricken communities as they move beyond the acute crisis and enter the reconstruction phase.