US funding for population work will help women, says UN

March 13th, 2009 - 7:09 am ICT by IANS  

New York, March 13 (DPA) The restoration of funding of UN population programmes by the Obama administration will help women, girls and their families around the world, the global organisation has said.
US President Barack Obama signed a $410-billion budget for the rest of the fiscal year Wednesday that included restoring US contribution of $50 million a year to the fund.

The US had withdrawn funding for the programme under former president George W. Bush. Bush’s Republican Party had charged UNFPA (UN Population Fund) with supporting abortions, particularly in China, and cancelled the US contribution starting in 2002. UNFPA denied any involvement in abortions.

“This is a great day for women, girls and their families around the world,” UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said Thursday. “We warmly applaud this action by President Obama that underlines his support to the protection of the lives and human dignity of women and girls in the poorest countries.”

The measure approved by the US Senate Tuesday includes more than $500 million for bilateral and multilateral family planning and reproductive health care worldwide, including the money for UNFPA.

Obaid said the fresh US contribution would allow UNFPA to maintain its life-saving work, particularly improving maternal and reproductive health, in the world’s poorest communities, especially during this financial crisis.

She said US funding would also go to support ongoing UNFPA initiatives around the world, such as training midwives to make deliveries safer, providing health supplies to clinics, supporting the treatment of obstetric fistula, meeting the special needs of women in crises and preventing HIV among young people.

Obama had pledged to restore US funding to the UN during his successful presidential electoral campaign.

UNFPA disbursed money to maintain population-related programmes in 150 countries from contributions from at least 180 countries.

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