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UNFPA in Iran

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.


Throughout the years, UNFPA has built and expanded on its partnership with various government entities and has expanded and extended its support to vulnerable and high-risk population groups. UNFPA has successfully supported the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, including universities of medical sciences, in improving maternal health of Iranian women and Afghan refugees by ensuring improved quality maternal health services. South-South Cooperation was one key mode of engagement into which UNFPA invested capacities and efforts and was able to successfully convene dialogues between I.R. Iran and neighboring countries. UNFPA's support has been particularly well recognized during humanitarian situations such as the 2019 floods, the 2017 Kermanshah Earthquake, and the COVID-19 pandemic, where UNFPA supported national efforts to fulfill the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls, and to protect them through counseling and psychosocial support. Years of evidence generation and advocacy has led to national plans such as the Demographic Dividend (DD) Roadmap with focus on youth and women's empowerment. This advocacy also resulted in comprehensive monitoring mechanisms to better inform policies and respond to the needs of vulnerable populations such as Female Heads-of-Households and Older persons. The Secretariat for the National Council of Elderly (SNCE) has also recognized UNFPA's technical contribution in the preparation of the National Document for Older Persons. The strategic level interventions remain to be tested. This is why, in line with the implementation of the DD Roadmap, UNFPA is collaborating with the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare in preparing and providing integrated vocational and life skills training to youth in selected provinces. Similarly, we are partnering with SNCE in the pilot implementation of Age-Friendly Environment with the municipality of Esfahan. 


Our work in sexual and reproductive health focuses on pregnant mothers and at-risk populations. Together with the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME), we aim to improve maternal health, promote natural delivery, and decrease maternal mortality in provinces with the highest risks, including among Afghan refugees and those affected by natural disasters. We also join hands with various departments within the ministry in building capacities of care providers and enhancing the existing systems in counseling, life skills training, STI/HIV prevention, and in promoting health and family values for at-risk populations, including women, men, adolescents and youth. 

Population and Development; Youth and Women Empowerment

I.R. Iran currently benefits from a sizably young population, offering a time-limited demographic window of opportunity. Investment in youth and women's employability and empowerment, ensuring their access to reproductive health, and securing individuals' productivity and savings will lead to demographic dividend and sustainable growth. Here, UNFPA supports the Government's efforts, mainly at a strategic level in policy advice and knowledge management. In this endeavor, UNFPA works with its long-standing partner, the Statistical Center of Iran in the generation of quality evidence to guide development programmes and policies. We also joined hands with the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare (MOCLSW) for realizing the demographic dividend through youth and women centred innovation, and through building the resilience of female-heads of households during the pandemic and beyond. 

Population and Development; Youth and Women Empowerment

With the new living standards, fertility rates are going down, people are living longer, and the country is facing population ageing. The latest census reported 9.7 % of the Iranian population to be above 65 years old. The number and proportion of older people (65+) will increase gradually and surpass 0-19 age groups in the long run affecting the dependency ratio. If the country invests in the existing young popula tion, and adapts to the rapid population transition, a higher number of older people can be served in the near future. UNFPA supports the Government's efforts to respond to the needs of older persons, particularly women, through capacity development, knowledge generation and policy reform, increasing income security in old age, access to health and long-term care services, promoting community recognition and participation, adopting life-cycle and community driven approaches, and creating age-friendly and enabling environments to ensure older people live in dignity and respect. 


UNFPA supported the national response to COVID-19, through production and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment and provision of life saving medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators targeting pregnant women and older persons, medical equipment for COVID-free centers for pregnant women, and maternal Intensive care unit equipment. In this response, MOCLSW engaged over 300 female heads of households, including women with disability, in the production of PPEs in small and medium-sized production units in 4provinces of the country. Millions of protective gears produced by female heads of households have been widely distributed in the country. 


The double impacts of COVID-19 and economic sanctions, and the resulting economic downturn, have impacted the implementation of programme interventions, with challenges faced in the area of international funds transfer and procurement during COVID-19.  Despite the challenges, UNFPA looks to the future with optimism and determination. We will remain agile, anticipate risks, and continue advocating and promoting innovative strategies to reach the most vulnerable and most severely impacted.  UNFPA will continue its work in the areas of SRH in particular maternal health, demographic dividend including youth and women empowerment, and population ageing to make sure tha no one is left behind. UNFPA will further invest in supporting the government towards implementation of action plans and strategies jointly developed for building resilience and empowering the youth, women, and older people, through innovation, creativity and partnership. This will be done with the spirit of one UN and the UN reform process in close partnership with our sister UN agencies under the overall cooperation framework between the UN and the Government of I.R.Iran.