United Nations Population Fund

© United Nations Population Fund

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the primary international organization focused on population, demographics and reproductive health, including maternal health. Established in 1969, UNFPA has a mandate to support countries in using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and ensure that:

  • Every pregnancy is wanted
  • Every birth is safe
  • Every young person is free of HIV/AIDS
  • Every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect

UNFPA uses culturally sensitive approaches, focusing on vulnerable groups such as young people and women, promoting human rights and gender equality, and ensuring access to reproductive health care and commodities, including during humanitarian crises.

Thematic Focus

UNFPA's mandate closely aligns with Canada's priority theme for international development of securing the future of children and youth, particularly through its focus on improving the health and rights of women and children and addressing the needs of youth.

The work of UNFPA is also critical in contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Children and youth

UNFPA's focus on improving the health and rights of women and children, promoting and protecting the rights of young people, and advocating for equality between women and men makes it one of Canada's key multilateral partners in securing a future for children and youth. This includes improving the health and rights of women and children, and meeting Canada's 2010 G-8 commitment as outlined in the Muskoka Initiative.

Strategy for Working with UNFPA

Canada's international development work with UNFPA focuses on three strategic objectives:

  1. Broadening UNFPA's efforts to improve maternal health, promote gender equality, and support the needs of youth by:
    • Reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality as a result of working with governments and partners to strengthen national health systems
    • Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment
    • Increasing efforts to reduce female genital mutilation
    • Strengthening UNFPA's performance in emergencies
    • Continuing to advocate for the particular needs of women and girls in crisis and conflict settings
  2. Working with UNFPA to improve institutional performance, particularly to strengthen capacity at the country level. This includes:
    • Supporting UNFPA's decentralization efforts
    • Improving the quality of decentralized evaluations and results reporting
    • Integrating gender equality issues in country programs
  3. Supporting UNFPA in continuing its active role in UN reform to ensure the UNFPA's programs are coherent, coordinated and focused


In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, UNFPA:

  • Helped almost all of the 156 countries it works in to conduct household or thematic surveys between 2007 and 2011 to collect population data, which will be used to improve services
  • Strengthened midwifery regulation, services and training in 30 countries and launched more than 150 midwifery schools and associations, in collaboration with the International Confederation of Midwives—midwives can help avert 2/3 of maternal deaths and half of newborn deaths provided they are well-trained, well-equipped, well-supported and authorized
  • Helped expand access to voluntary family planning services in 45 countries
  • Helped strengthen youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention and treatment services in 87 countries
  • Continued to lead the Campaign to End Fistula, which has enabled more than 27,000 women to receive surgical treatment for the condition—7,000 in 2011 alone