Population Fund – UNFPA

People are sitting in a waiting room.
Supporting the UNFPA enables Switzerland to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare worldwide. © UN Photo

The UNFPA is the UN sexual and reproductive health agency. It works to promote the right to sexual and reproductive health, and to comprehensive family planning. The UNFPA also produces key demographic data to assist in the development of policies and programmes for combating poverty.

Some 800 women and girls are still dying every day from preventable causes relating to pregnancy and childbirth. Around 130 million women who want to plan their families lack access to safe and effective contraception. The overwhelming majority of these women live in developing countries.

The UNFPA's mission is to contribute to a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.  It is one of the key players in implementing the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, of which Switzerland is a signatory. The Programme of Action gives the UNFPA a mandate to protect and strengthen human rights, in particular in terms of sexual and reproductive health (including family planning) and reproductive rights for all, especially women and adolescents. The UNFPA also provides countries with demographic data that assists them in developing policies and programmes for combating poverty. It is guided, in particular, by Goal 3 (Good health and well-being) and Goal 5 (Gender equality) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Significant progress has been made over the past 20 years in the areas covered by the UNFPA: between 2000 and 2017 maternal mortality fell by 38%. The number of new HIV infections fell from 3.5 million in 2000 to 1.7 million by 2019. Although these results are positive from a global perspective, there are huge disparities between countries and within individual countries. Approximately 800 women die every day from causes relating to maternal and child health. Almost all maternal deaths occur in developing countries and are attributable to poor quality obstetric care. More than two thirds of the deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and one fifth in South Asia.

The UNFPA's aims

The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018–2021 reaffirms its strategic direction and describes its humanitarian activities.  It sets out four key objectives:

  • Woman, adolescents and young adults utilise integrated sexual and reproductive health services and exercise reproductive rights, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
  • Adolescents and young adults are empowered to have access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, in all contexts.
  • Gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and reproductive rights are advanced in development and humanitarian settings.
  • Everyone, everywhere, is counted, and accounted for, in the pursuit of sustainable development, based on fact-based analyses of population dynamics. 

The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018-2021


Results achieved by the UNFPA under its Strategic Plan 2014–2017 include the following:  

  • The number of women who are able to plan their own pregnancy thanks to access to the desired methods of contraception has increased by 42 million (up 6% since 2014).
  • From 2014 to 2017, the UNFPA trained 47,000 midwives and specialist health workers in 39 countries.
  • From 2014 to 2017, the UNFPA distributed more than 2.8 billion high-quality contraceptives to men and women.
  • From 2014 to 2017, 8,963 local authorities abandoned the practice of female genital mutilation, thanks to a joint UNFPA and UNICEF programme.
  • On average, 10 million adolescents have benefited each year from sexual and reproductive health services integrated into basic medical care.
  • On average, more than 10 million people in humanitarian crisis situations have benefited each year from sexual and reproductive health services. In 2017, this number climbed to 16 million. 

The UNFPA Strategic Plan 2014-2017

Switzerland’s commitment

Switzerland’s priorities

The UNFPA's priorities and operations are aligned with the objectives laid down in Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24. The UNFPA is one of Switzerland's most important partners in addressing the problems linked to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Switzerland's aims in connection with the UNFPA are as follows:

  • Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young adults, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • Rolling out and consolidating more robust, independent analysis tools.
  • Enhancing the coherence of the UN system and ensuring progress on reforms through closer collaboration between agencies.
  • Contributing to the quality of the UNFPA's work.  

International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 (PDF, 52 Pages, 1.3 MB, English)

Switzerland's contributions

In culturally sensitive matters, such as family planning and contraception, an international organisation enjoys greater acceptance than interventions by a single donor country. For this reason, Switzerland's work in relation to population issues is primarily multilateral, and it has been supporting the UNFPA since 1976.

Switzerland is providing a core contribution of CHF 64 million for the 2018–21 period, equivalent to CHF 16 million per year. It is also providing funding for UNFPA humanitarian and development initiatives at both national and international level.

As a member state and strategic donor, Switzerland plays an active role in monitoring and verifying the UNFPA's operational and financial reporting through its membership of the Executive Board. Switzerland also engages in regular political dialogue with the UNFPA at various levels in order to assess the progress made and identify upcoming challenges.

Switzerland's commitment to the UNFPA contributes to creating stable societies and a secure international environment. As a highly globalised and economically interconnected country, Switzerland also depends on this stability for its security and prosperity. Given its international responsibilities and objectives in relation to health and gender equality, Switzerland considers the UNFPA an important partner.  

FDFA Strategy on Gender equality and Women’s rights (PDF, 357.9 kB, English)

Swiss Health Foreign Policy (PDF, 2.0 MB, English)

SDC Health Policy  (PDF, 66 Pages, 1.3 MB, English)

International cooperation: a vocation

Forty short films about people working in UN agencies in Geneva. You can select the subtitle language (de, fr, it, en) below each video.