Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 3, 2022
Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Executive Director.
Colleagues, one year ago, the Biden Administration reignited U.S. leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights through the President’s Memorandum on Protecting Women at Home and Abroad. Since then, our relationship with UNFPA has only continued to flourish. The United States increased its core funding contribution by $20 million to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls. The United States also provided its first financial contribution – $5 million – to UNFPA Supplies, recognizing the lifesaving outcomes associated with access to high-quality family planning commodities and essential maternal medicines, especially during humanitarian crises.
We supported UNFPA’s important work as the 2021 IASC Champion on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and we commend you, Dr. Kanem, for your commitment to Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abue as a top institutional and UN system priority.
As the pandemic evolves, the new Strategic Plan must be implemented with urgency, consistent with your commitment to leave no one behind. Underpinning this effort, updated research to assess the status of UNFPA’s early projections will be crucial to accurately understand how did COVID-19 affect SRHR, including unintended pregnancy, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence. Such information enables communities to more effectively focus on vulnerable populations within intensified recovery efforts. We specifically encourage communities and governments to consider the wellbeing of adolescent girls, a population that is too often overlooked.
Early in the pandemic you, Dr. Kanem, sounded the alarm that school closures could alter the fate of young girls. We echo this concern about the “lost girls of COVID” as schools reopen for the first time in some parts of the world. We call on countries to provide holistic support to adolescent girls affected by pregnancy and gender-based violence, including child, early, and forced marriage. There is a grave and immediate risk that opportunities deferred for these girls, relating to education, health, and employment, become missed opportunities with lifelong consequences. The United States stresses that leaving no one behind means not losing a generation of adolescent girls. As we remain dedicated to UNFPA’s work, we urge all our colleagues in the community to remain committed to these girls and empower them for the future.
Thank you very much.