United Nations Population Fund

United Nations Population Fund

            Of the ten reproductive rights organizations listed in Women Worldwide, I recognized The United Nations Population Fund’s work as being the most attentive to geopolitical and cultural differences of gender, sexuality, and family. Each organization’s website included at least a brief statement regarding their commitment to taking regionally specific approaches due to geopolitical differences. However, it was the United Nations Population Fund which devoted the most discussion to realizing the cultural and geopolitical differences of gender, sexuality, and family concerning reproductive rights.

            Broadly understood, the United Nations Population Fund outlines reproductive rights as the right to: “Reproductive health as a component of overall health, throughout the life cycle, for both men and women; reproductive decision-making (including voluntary choice in marriage) family formation and determination of the number, timing and spacing of one’s children and the right to have access to the information and means needed to exercise voluntary choice; equality and equity for men and women, to enable individuals to make free and informed choices in all spheres of life, free from discrimination based on gender; and, sexual and reproductive security, including freedom from sexual violence and coercion, and the right to privacy.” Employing this definition of reproductive rights, therefore allows room for those inevitable differences regarding gender, sexuality, and family that will arise across the world.

            Furthermore, the UNFPA’s commitment to cultural sensitivity can be evidenced in the strategies they employ in varying regions of the world. For example, in Yemen, they helped to create a guide for imams which relates reproductive health to the Koran and emphasizes the Prophet’s teachings on gender equality. Additionally, the UNFPA gives particular attention to indigenous groups. Using Panama as an example, “a study on the Mbya, who were traditionally hunters and gatherers, is being conducted, and includes a systematization of Mbya’s experiences in sexual and reproductive healthcare, their myths and culture. Community participation, especially that of Mbya male midwives and traditional women midwives is being incorporated into this research.” In this way, it appears to me that the UNFPA’s understanding of reproductive rights is aware of the need for developing initiatives with respect to unique geopolitical conceptions. As a result, their mission to extend the right of reproductive health to everyone becomes more effective in its implementation.  

Morgan McFetters

WMST 2020-001



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