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 Year on year, millions of women and adolescents in 155 countries and territories have been progressively able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

This is in no small measure as a result of UNFPA programmes and activities. The UNFPA strategic plan for 2014-2017 set ambitious targets for increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services, including—and especially—in parts of the world strangled by war or devastated by natural disasters.

These services have empowered millions of women to make their own decisions about whether, when or how often to become pregnant. They have enabled millions of teenagers to avoid unplanned pregnancy, and to make safe and healthy transitions to adulthood.

And they have slowed the unnecessary and cruel tide of maternal death. UNFPA-supported initiatives have touched a remarkable number of people’s lives. Contraceptives provided by UNFPA between 2014 and 2017, for example, helped avert 49 million unintended pregnancies, 15 million unsafe abortions and 125,000 maternal deaths.

Through its advocacy in this period, nearly 9,000 communities abandoned female genital mutilation, sparing more than 800,000 girls from this harmful practice. Yet, the world is still far from perfect for women and girls. There is still much that needs to be done.

And so despite its impressive achievements, UNFPA continues its journey of reaching those who have not yet been able to claim their rights, with a priority focus on supporting those left furthest behind first. Untold millions are still at risk of unintended pregnancy, death in pregnancy or childbirth, or practices that keep girls from realizing their full potential. In 2018, this is simply unacceptable.

Last year, the UNFPA Executive Board endorsed our next strategic plan, for 2018–2021, which aims to reach those who have been left behind. The new plan strives for three results that will be truly transformative for the lives of women and girls: to end unmet demand for family planning, preventable maternal death, and gender-based violence, including harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, by 2030, the same year the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved.

Ensuring that high-quality population data underpins these transformative results, through a geo-referenced Population Data Platform, will enable us to deliver on our strategic plan. In 2018 and beyond, UNFPA will, therefore, allocate the bulk of its resources towards these transformative results and will use high-quality population data to document where progress is being made and to show where additional efforts are needed. We will not stop until every woman and every girl, across the globe, has the power, information and means to shape her own destiny. A cause worth fighting for, and a mandate UNFPA defends every day, everywhere.

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