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UNFPA Pacific, Suva (Fiji) April 24, 2014 - The management and staff of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific Sub-Regional Office have been encouraged to apply concepts of social engineering and demystification of sexual reproductive health-related topics in their daily work.

Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Peter Thomson told the UNFPA Pacific staff members that social engineering had created social change from unthinkable situations to modern-day realities such as smoking tobacco in airplanes and offices.

Ambassador Thomson is the chairperson of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UNFPA and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which is in Suva, on a tour of Fiji and Samoa.

Ambassador Thomson likened the work of "demystifying Parliament" to encourage women to participate in the political arena, to the work of the UNFPA in relation to topics and issues of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

"Your work is to demystify the whole area of sexual health because throughout history, sex has tended to be a taboo subject," Ambassador Thomson said. "But we are now in a globalized world where everything is available on the internet and TV so we have to educate our young people on the proper approach to sexual health. That is why I say we have to demystify sexual matters.

"It's about reproductive health; it's about those areas where kids can go wrong in their minds if they are not properly taught.

"I believe in the post-2015 development agenda, we can abolish unthinkable situations such as gender violence. Of course we are never going to totally eliminate the crime of rape, or for that matter the incidence of teenage pregnancies, but we can greatly diminish their occurrence to a point where UNFPA will be able to look back with pride at what has been achieved."

Ambassador Thomson said the board was proud of what the UNFPA Pacific office has achieved, covering such a massive area and multiple countries, acknowledging that there was muchmore to be achieved.

"Your work on such issues as gender violence is not a hopeless cause, it is vital work," he said. "It is something that will be achieved in the post-2015 development agenda so more power to you. We are really proud of the work UNFPA is doing, not just here but all around the world."

UNFPA Pacific Director and Representative, Dr Laurent Zessler said the board's visit was a remarkable opportunity for the United Nations agencies present in the Pacific to showcase their work in the region, in particular its collaborations among themselves and/or with governments and civil society.

"We will always endeavor to do things better to ensure our interventions are more effective but we must also pause and celebrate milestones we may have reached; this visit by the board has been an extraordinary opportunity for our stakeholders and for our staff," Dr Laurent said.

While in Fiji, the board had a series of meetings including site visits of UNDP and UNFPA programmes.

Fiji is serving a three year term on the 36 member Executive Board (2013-2015); the Executive Board elected Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Peter Thomson as its President for the term January 2014 to January 2015. The purpose of the Executive Board visit is to enhance the Board members' understanding of the extent and ways in which the United Nations organizations, and in particular UNDP and UNFPA, position their engagement with the Pacific Island Countries and Territories. The visit is timely given the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) scheduled to be held in Apia, Samoa from 1-4 September 2014. 

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

UNFPA delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person's potential is fulfilled.

UNFPA partners with governments, other agencies and civil society to advance UNFPA's mission.

UNOPS helps the UN and its partners run peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations for people in need.