My experience at the UN Population Fund and why US should not defund it

I am not a numbers person but someone who purely believes in an individual’s or an organisation’s good work. I stand by those who have come forward and done something right and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)  is one such organisation. Having been associated to the UNFPA in New York for a brief period, I can definitely say that I am extremely proud of the work that they do for the society.

I do not always rely on numbers but a recent decision by the US to cut about $32.5 million in funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is appalling. This decision is sure to effect millions of vulnerable people across the globe who purely survive on the goodwill of the United Nations. The UNFPA’s mission is – “To ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”. How can one not get behind this?

Copyright_UNFPA_l_Prashant_Gurjar_Invest_in_Girls (1)Photo courtesy – UNFPA India

Having had the privilege of working with UNFPA as an intern, I was associated with different teams within the Media and Communications Branch which opened my eyes to the various issues concerning young people, women and girls most in need. I had the opportunity to work with teams such as the Maternal Health and Youth and Population team. This experience not only gave me an understanding of the work that is carried out across the world by this wonderful agency but also a strong feeling of the sense of purpose that runs within every employee and volunteer who works with it as a force for good.

So what does the UNFPA do?  True to its mission, the UNFPA provides maternal care to vulnerable women who are victims of issues such as gender discrimination, war and poverty. It provides treatment to women who suffer stigma and social taboo for no fault of their own by providing treatment for obstetrics fistula. Furthermore, it helps spread awareness and educate local communities about how it can be prevented and helps with reintegration. Be it the refugee camps of Jordan and Syria or a remote village in Africa and other parts of the world, UNFPA volunteers and employees ensure safe childbirth. The UNFPA’s mandate reiterates that every young person’s potential is fulfilled. It provides a platform for youth across the world to share their voice and play a role in their future.
Zaatari-Baby_0Photo Courtesy – UNFPA

So why do I care? This decision to defund the UNFPA can have the effect of stopping a midwife in Africa from training, can shut the voice of a young adult who might be fighting to curb Female Genital Mutilation and it can have the effect of reducing the chances of safe childbirth in places like Syria and Iraq which are suffering from the pain of war and senseless destruction. The UN system may not be perfect, but without the UNFPA the world is a much bleaker place.

In light of the cut in funding by the US, I hope that other donor countries will hopefully come together and contribute more to sustain this important work. I am currently not associated with the UNFPA in any way but having witnessed their sincere and dedicated effort, I urge everyone to open their hearts and show support. Please spread this message, go online – and donate to the organisation where ‘every life counts’.