Population Fund – UNFPA

People are sitting in a waiting room.
Through its support for the multilateral development fund UNFPA, Switzerland can improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare worldwide. © UN Photo

UNFPA is the United Nations development agency that works to promote the right to sexual and reproductive health, and to comprehensive family planning. The fund also provides important demographic data that enables the development of policies and programmes for combating poverty.

In 2017, 830 women and girls were still dying every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Around 214 million women who want to plan their births do not have access to modern family planning. The overwhelming majority of these women live in developing countries.

UNFPA’s mission is to contribute to a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. It is one of the key players in implementing the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, of which Switzerland is a signatory. The Programme of Action gives UNFPA a mandate to protect and strengthen human rights, in particular in terms of sexual and reproductive health (including family planning) and reproductive rights for all, especially women and adolescents. UNFPA also provides countries with demographic data that assists them in developing policies and programmes for combating poverty. It is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably goals 3 (Good health and well-being) and 5 (Gender equality).


Significant progress has been made over the past 20 years in the areas covered by UNFPA. Between 1990 and 2016, maternal mortality fell by 44%. The number of new HIV infections fell from 3.5 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2013. These results are positive from a global perspective, but there are obvious disparities between countries and within individual countries. Approximately 830 women die every day from causes linked to the health of the mother and the baby. Almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries, and are caused by the unsatisfactory quality of birth assistance. More than half of these occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and a third in South Asia.

UNFPA’s aims

The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018–2021 reaffirms UNFPA’s strategic direction and specifies its activities in the humanitarian field. It focuses on four aims:

  • Women, adolescent and young adults, especially those most at risk, have access to integrated sexual and reproductive health services and exercise their reproductive rights, free of coercion, discrimination and violence;

  • Adolescents and young adults are empowered to have access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, regardless of their personal social circumstances ;

  • Gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and reproductive rights are advanced in development and humanitarian settings;

  • Sustainable development considers all people in the world and is based on fact-based analyses of population dynamics.

    The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018-2021

UNFPA’s results

Results achieved by UNFPA under its Strategic Plan 2014–2017 include the following: 

  • The number of women who are able to plan their own pregnancy thanks to access to the desired methods of contraception has risen by 42 million (a 6% increase from 2014).

  • From 2014 to 2017, UNFPA trained 47,000 midwives and specialist health workers.

  • From 2014 to 2017, UNFPA distributed more than 2.8 billion high-quality contraceptives to men and women.

  • From 2014 to 2017, 8,963 local authorities abandoned the practice of female genital mutilation, thanks to a joint UNFPA and UNICEF programme.

  • On average, 10 million adolescents have benefited each year from sexual and reproductive health services integrated into basic medical care.

  • On average, more than 10 million people in humanitarian crisis situations have benefited each year from sexual and reproductive health services. In 2017, this number climbed to 16 million.

    The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2014-2017 

Switzerland’s commitment

Switzerland’s priorities

UNFPA’s priorities and operations are aligned with the strategic objectives of the Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2017–2020. UNFPA is one of Switzerland’s most important partners in dealing with the problems linked to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Switzerland’s aims in connection with UNFPA are as follows:

  • Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people, including in humanitarian contexts;

  • Consolidating the implementation of more robust, independent analysis tools;

  • Enhancing the coherence of the UN system and ensuring progress on reforms through closer collaboration between agencies;

  • Contributing to the quality of UNFPA’s work.

    Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2017–2020

Switzerland's contributions

In culturally sensitive matters such as family planning and contraception, an international organisation enjoys greater acceptance than interventions by a single donor country. For this reason, Switzerland’s work in the field of population is primarily multilateral, and it has been supporting UNFPA since 1976.

Switzerland is providing a core contribution of CHF 48 million for the period from 2018 to 2020, equivalent to CHF 16 million per year. In addition to this, it is funding specific UNFPA humanitarian and development activities at both global and national levels.

As a member state and strategic donor, Switzerland plays an active role in monitoring and assessing UNFPA’s operational and financial accountability through its membership of the Executive Board. Switzerland also fosters regular political dialogue with UNFPA at various levels on priority topics in order to identify progress and coming challenges.

Switzerland’s commitment to UNFPA contributes to creating stable societies and a secure international environment. As a highly globalised and economically well-connected state, Switzerland needs this stability for its own security and prosperity. With respect both to its international responsibilities and to its objectives in the fields of health and gender equality, Switzerland considers UNFPA an important partner. In addition, Switzerland integrates the interests and objectives of FDFA Strategy on Gender equality and Women’s rights as well as of Swiss Health Foreign Policy and SDC Health Policy within the UN fund.

FDFA Strategy on Gender equality and Women’s rights (PDF, 357.9 kB, English)

Swiss Health Foreign Policy (PDF, 2.0 MB, English)

SDC Health Policy  (PDF, Number of pages 66, 1.3 MB, English)

International Cooperation: A profession

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