Remarks at the UN Population Fund Annual Session of the Executive Board

Susan Olson, Senior Population Policy Officer, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
New York City
June 3, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Dr. Kanem for your statement and update on the implementation of UNFPA’s strategic plan for 2018 to 2021. We join other delegations in noting UNFPA’s 50th anniversary this year and appreciate the organization’s long-standing global efforts to make voluntary and informed family planning more accessible, help prevent maternal death, and eliminate violence against women and girls. We are pleased to hear about the appointment of Ms. Shoko Arakaki as the new Humanitarian Branch Chief, and look forward to learning more about her plans for further strengthening UNFPA’s response efforts in emergency and fragile settings at the next meeting of the Board.

The United States has long been a world leader and the largest bilateral donor to global health programs. However, barriers still exist, and, in too many places, women continue to lack access to life-saving maternal health care, including in humanitarian settings. Improving maternal and child health is a priority for my government, and we strongly support the principle of informed and voluntary family planning and prioritized health care interventions for the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy and optimal maternal and child health. While the United States continues to provide significant funding for global health programs, we also encourage other stakeholders and partner governments, as well as the private sector, to increase their engagement, support, and funding to help save more lives.

My government believes that investing in the health of women and girls is essential to strengthening families and communities and transforming countries. This occurs not only through improving health care, but equally important, through empowering individuals, families and communities to take responsibility for their health. To this end, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting partner countries on the “Journey to Self-Reliance” – or, to put it another way, supporting their ability to solve their own development challenges. We recognize that healthy individuals, families and communities provide the foundation for growth and stability, and this approach to development prioritizes fostering stable, resilient, prosperous, inclusive, and self-sufficient countries.

Community health clinics and community health workers are often the first point of contact for many women in low-and middle-income countries, and they address a gap in providing health care to under-served populations. Working in partnership with local policy-makers, civil society, and faith-based organizations to build capacity and increase access to maternal health care and voluntary and informed family planning is important to safe motherhood and healthy families. These strategic partnerships help ensure buy-in from local communities, generate valuable country-specific data, and create opportunities for learning – all of which are critical milestones on the path to sustainability and self-reliance.

Violence against women is another issue that affects millions throughout the world.



Secretary of State Pompeo has reiterated the United States’ commitment to advancing women’s equality and preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls – from domestic and sexual violence to forced marriage and so-called honor killings. We believe that eliminating violence against women and girls requires all of us –governments, the private sector, civil society, and faith-based organizations – to take action. My delegation recognizes UNFPA’s efforts to address violence against women, as well as harmful practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. The United States will continue to encourage stakeholders to involve women and girls in decision-making and designing programs to address these issues.

The United States strongly supports the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. We commend UNFPA’s commitment to a repositioned UN Development System and the work done to date by UNFPA to implement the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, or QCPR, of 2016 and General Assembly resolution 72/279, as well as its harmonization with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and UN Women in reform implementation.

Regarding the report on UNFPA’s progress in implementing its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, we take note of UNFPA’s results-oriented, adaptive approach to program planning and prioritization.

We appreciate UNFPA’s efforts to strengthen its evaluation function and support both internal and external capacity-development, as underscored in its revised evaluation policy. Most notable is UNFPA’s incorporation of innovative evaluation approaches that allow real-time feedback to support rapid strategic learning and organizational change.

We further note UNFPA’s improvements in the investment of evaluation resources, evaluation coverage and implementation, as well as the successful use of the financial ring-fencing mechanism to cover anticipated shortfalls for decentralized evaluations. We look forward to continued improvements in these and other critical areas.

My delegation was pleased to see the results of the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network’s (MOPAN) recent assessment of UNFPA and observed that the organization has demonstrated improvements in many areas since its previous MOPAN assessment in 2014. Notably, the results of the assessment demonstrate a strong focus on results, robust financial and risk-management systems, and improved knowledge-management systems. While recognizing this progress, we also encourage UNFPA to address areas identified for improvement; including alignment of human resources and more sustainable and timely program delivery, particularly in the humanitarian context.

Finally, my government has consistently spoken out to condemn coercive population control policies, and we have steadfastly opposed programs that support coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. We continue to urge UNFPA not to partner with the Government of the People’s Republic of China on its family planning program, which includes coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization, and to not promote abortion in its programming.

Mr. President, my delegation looks forward to working with our fellow Member States toward constructive outcomes during this annual session of the Executive Board.

Thank you.