Nepal | February 22, 2020

World leaders vow to advance ICPD agenda as historic Nairobi Summit opens

Rajan Pokhrel

NAIROBI, KENYA: World leaders, representatives of non-governmental organisations, young people, business leaders and community groups have unveiled their commitments to end preventable maternal death, meet all women’s demand for family planning, and stop violence against women and girls by 2030.

During the three-day Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that kicked off yesterday, private sector organisations also announced to mobilize some $8 billion in combined new pledges to achieve zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, zero gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030.

World leaders, representatives during three-day Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 on November 12, 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo Courtesy: Redhouse Public Relations

The commitments have been made during the historic Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, taking place 25 years after the landmark International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo, where 179 governments adopted an action plan for women’s empowerment and sexual and reproductive health for all.

This is a historic opportunity for the world to transform the lives of millions of people, especially women and girls, and advance universal access to sexual reproductive health and rights, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem shared. “It’s now time to finish the unfinished business,” the UNFPA chief said, referring to the ICPD vision which is still far from reality.

President of Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, seen addressing Nairobi Summit on November 12, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo Courtesy: Redhouse Public Relations

Since the ICPD gains have been made in strengthening maternal health care and expanding access to quality contraceptive information and services, there are still many who have not benefited from these gains, with more than 800 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth every day and 232 million women wanting to prevent pregnancy but not using a modern contraceptive, according to the UNFPA.

Young people are attending the summit in their large numbers. “Unlike the Cairo Conference, this time around young people are not just demanding for appropriate investment in their health and education but they’re committing to be part of the solution and taking action to deliver the promises beyond Nairobi Summit for rights and choices for all.”

The summit aims to tackle these problems as well as put a stop to gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.

“The bold, rights-based vision of the ICPD – that development must put people first, that attention must be paid to strengthening equal access to health, education, and human dignity for all persons – anticipated the bold, ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda,” said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the start of the summit. “As critical accelerators for the Sustainable Development Goals, the outcomes of ICPD must be carried forward. The success of the global agenda for sustainable development, our common framework for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership, depends on it.”

Our world has changed a lot since 1994 in the field of population and development, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, said while opening the summit.

“Inequalities have increased within and across countries and there is greater demographic diversity. Some countries in the world are facing rapid population ageing; while others prepare for the largest cohort of young people the world has ever seen,” the President said.

According to him, the world faces increased health threats including threats from reproductive cancers such as breast, cervical and prostate cancer. And there are also growing environmental pressures including the urgent threat of climate change.

“This has made the Cairo commitments more urgent and more complex. To complete the unfinished agenda, therefore, requires us to develop new partnerships, mobilise political support, increase the level of international and domestic financing; and accelerate implementation of innovative and supportive interventions.”

“Here in Nairobi, we as a global community have the opportunity to reaffirm that promise, find new ways to deliver on it and earn respect for keeping it,” Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary said, adding, “Let us use our learnings and knowledge gained in the past 25 years, let us use the SDG framework where the Cairo promise is integrated, let us look to new and innovative partnerships to bridge gaps, let us engage the youth respectfully and fully, and let us commit to overcoming differences and taboos to ensure rights and choices for all.”

Hosted by the governments of Denmark and Kenya and UNFPA, the summit is also mobilising the political will and securing the financial commitments urgently needed to make sexual and reproductive health a reality for everyone, everywhere.

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