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Message from UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem

The new year is a time for reflection and for resolutions -- a time to take stock of our successes and challenges, to strengthen our resolve and to set goals for the future. For UNFPA, this year marks a beginning as we roll out our new Strategic Plan.

As the new Executive Director of UNFPA, I am proud that through the turmoil and transitions of 2017, UNFPA staff in more than 150 countries stood together, showed their mettle and continued to deliver impressive life-saving results for the women and girls we serve, even in the most dangerous settings.

Last year, UNFPA reached more than 33 million women and over 1.6 million adolescents and young people with sexual and reproductive health services and those to prevent and tackle gender-based violence.

Contraceptives provided by UNFPA had the potential to avert an estimated 30,800 maternal deaths, 11.6 million unintended pregnancies and 3.6 million unsafe abortions.

UNFPA trained thousands of health workers, treated 22,000 women and girls living with fistula, reached more than 2 million marginalized girls with life skills programmes and 1 million more with prevention and protection services related to child marriage and female genital mutilation. This is just a snapshot of the life-saving and life-transforming services that UNFPA delivered to millions of women and adolescent girls around the world.


Expanding options and choices for the poorest women and adolescent girls is the most important thing we do.


By empowering them to make their own decisions about the timing and spacing of pregnancies, we open an important pathway towards their economic security and independence. It is also a pathway towards more balanced economies and societies as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals.
This vision of inclusiveness and equality, of a world where no woman or girl is left behind, informs UNFPA’s Strategic Plan for the next four years. The new plan is our roadmap for the first leg of our collective journey to 2030.
To get there, we have three strategic results that we will work to achieve by 2030:

  1. zero unmet need for family planning;
  2. zero maternal deaths; and
  3. zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including child marriage and female genital mutilation. 

Our strength in collecting and analyzing population data will continue to inform everything UNFPA does and will ensure that everyone is accounted for in the pursuit of these three ambitious aims and of global goals for sustainable development.

In 2018, we will continue working with our partners across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus so that work in one area reinforces the others. We will focus on preparedness, risk reduction and building resilience – of health systems, communities, and women and young people.

In all we do, we will continue to focus on innovation, on being bold, vocal and visible, and on leaving no one behind. That is how UNFPA and our partners will get to scale.


UNFPA’s immediate priorities for 2018 include:


  • Strengthening communication, advocacy and partnerships towards achieving universal access and getting to zero;
  • Strengthening innovation, especially in our ever-increasing humanitarian activities; and
  • Working with governments and other partners to prepare for 2019, which will mark the 50th anniversary of UNFPA operations and the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, which guides UNFPA’s work to this day. A series of regional ICPD reviews in 2018 will assess progress, gaps, challenges and emerging issues and lay the groundwork for accelerated action.

UNFPA is poised to be extraordinarily successful, and our success will be a shared success for the world’s women and adolescent girls when they can claim their right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures.

I am optimistic because I know we are better focused and better positioned today to consolidate our gains, to innovate for scale, and to work together with a wide range of partners to deliver strong results. It is an auspicious moment for unity to raise the bar and propel the work forward.

Our Secretary-General, António Guterres, brings a bold new vision for United Nations reform. The United Nations is changing, and UNFPA is embracing and helping drive that change.

Thanks to the work of UNFPA and its partners, fewer women are dying giving life, and more women than ever before are using modern contraceptives.

Now we need to speed up these efforts to reach a future where zero is the only acceptable number: zero unmet need for family planning, zero maternal deaths, and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

The sexual and reproductive health and rights community stands united, resilient and ready to meet the future head on. There may be uncertainties on the horizon, yet our collective dedication to the health and rights of women and girls is stronger than ever. We gather our strength, imagination and solidarity to move forward in partnership in this new year with a vibrant new Strategic Plan.

Working together, we can ensure that every woman and adolescent girl everywhere can prevent an unintended pregnancy, can give birth safely and can live free from violence.



Today, we join the world in full solidarity with the people of Haiti, as we mark the sad events of the earthquake of 12 January 2010. We express our sympathies on the losses suffered by countless families, including our United Nations family, in this beautiful country – Ayiti bel!