FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President
My delegation would like to thank the Executive Director for her excellent statement this morning and her record of strong leadership at UNFPA. Ambassador Rice very much regrets not being able to participate in today’s meeting due to pressing business in Washington. Since this is a joint UNFPA-UNDP board meeting, let me also congratulate Administrator Helen Clark for her strong leadership on a range of important development issues over the past five months.
I am especially honored to represent the United States at the UNFPA segment of the 2009 Second Regular session of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board. President Obama has made clear his strong and steadfast support of UNFPA and its mission. The United States looks to UNFPA as a key partner in our efforts to increase worldwide access to reproductive health and family planning. We greatly value UNFPA’s long-term, international, multilateral effort to provide crucial, life saving family planning assistance where it is needed most. The $50 million dollar U.S. contribution to UNFPA, announced in March 2009, highlights our strong commitment to international family planning, women’s health, and global development. UNFPA has been at the forefront of empowering women with the information and knowledge needed to make decisions about one of the most important aspects of a woman’s life -- the health of herself and her family. We have stood aside from engaging in this worthy endeavor of educating women about their reproductive health for too long. It is time to work together to help UNFPA bring an end to the ignorance that results in millions of unnecessary deaths of women.
In addition to working more closely and supportively multilaterally, the United States is also increasing its support for global health through bilateral channels. In May, President Obama announced a new Global Health Initiative that will be a crucial component of U.S. foreign policy. The Global Health Initiative, which will provide $63 billion dollars in health assistance over a six year period, focuses increased attention and resources on reducing maternal and child mortality and increasing access to family planning. The Initiative also maintains our robust funding and strong commitments to fighting HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria and emphasizes the importance of strengthening health systems. One of the fundamental principles of the Global Health Initiative is that it will be women-centered. Women will be placed at the center of health care in order to reduce the inequities they face when trying to access care for their own health needs. This approach recognizes the importance of providing health education and services to women because they so often serve as a gateway for their families to receive the care they need. We will work to integrate women-focused interventions among our health programs and link maternal health, voluntary family planning, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and other health services.
Mr. President, it is particularly fitting that we gather here this week, which marks the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. UNFPA has a special responsibility as the lead multi-lateral body promoting the implementation of the ICPD Program of Action, which was accepted by consensus by179 countries in 1994. The United States Government is strongly committed to the Cairo agenda and the importance of gender equality, women’s empowerment, reproductive health, and the critical need to address the dire problem of maternal mortality. We recognize that fulfilling these goals will lead to a more prosperous and stable world for future generations.
We applaud the work of UNFPA in seeking to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence. Secretary Clinton, a tireless advocate for victims of gender based violence, recently highlighted the prevalence of this issue in conflict situations during her trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is committed to working with international organizations, governments and civil society leaders to stop these atrocities.
We are pleased that UNFPA is working in over 150 countries to address the unmet need for family planning and we hope to increase our collaboration at all levels. The United States pledges our fullest engagement to improve and expand new programs and inspire new and traditional partners to fully implement the Cairo Program of Action over the next five years.
We look forward to working with the Executive Board and our colleagues from around the world to build strong regional and global partnerships in support of UNFPA’s mission to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. As has often been said “no woman should die giving life.” Working together, we can help make that sentiment real for millions of women.
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