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Why city population summit will be a milestone

Josephine Kibaru-Mbae

This year, the global community will mark 25th anniversary of the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

The ICPD was a landmark event as 179 governments came up with Plan of Action that placed people at the heart of sustainable development.

Kenya is privileged to host the anniversary during the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the Promise. The Summit, to be held from November 12th to 14th, is expected to attract more than 5,000 delegates.

The Summit will bring together governments, private sector, civil society groups and community partners to advance the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals at the global, regional, national and local levels.

As Cairo was the watershed moment 25 years ago for sexual and reproductive health and rights, similarly, Nairobi will be the moment when no one is left behind, ensuring rights and choices for all.   

The Summit will offer a platform for a broad range of public and private sector stakeholders – Heads of State, Ministers, civil society and youth leaders, parliamentarians, business representatives, media and others – to come together around the universally applicable principle of rights and choices for all.

The event is coming to Kenya on a backdrop of the country embracing Universal Health Coverage among its Big four agenda to be attained by 2022 and its alignment to the SDG agenda 2030.

In many ways, the world has changed for the better over the last 25 years as governments’ efforts to protect the health and rights of women and girls have gained momentum.

Today more women have access to sexual reproductive health services. Fewer girls are subjected to child marriage and fewer women die from the pregnancy-related complications.

The number of maternal deaths, for example, decreased by about 40 per cent over the last 25 years and today, one in five girls is forced into marriage before age 18, compared with one in three in 1994.

Despite the gains, additional efforts are needed to reach those who have been left behind. Of much concern is the estimated 214 million women who do not have access to modern methods of contraception.

In developing countries, many women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy or while giving birth. Every day, 39,000 girls are forced into marriages and every year, four million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation.

Every five years since ICPD, member States come together to reaffirm their commitment, analyse the progress made towards realising their commitments to the ICPD Plan of Action and also the interventions which have been put in place to realise the commitments.

Each State is required to undertake a review of ICPD Plan of Action and submit a report to the African Union and United Nations Population Fund. The reports from member States are compiled into regional (continental) reports and later into a global report. Kenya has conducted review of the implementation the Programme of Action in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2018.

On October 4, 2013, Ministers from the African Union member states adopted the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD) and agreed that the future reviews of the ICPD be guided by the review of AADPD in the context of reporting on the post-2015 development agenda.

The 25th anniversary will be marked by reviewing the centrality of the ICPD Programme of Action to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and determine whether ICPD is still relevant.

The Commission on Population and Development will conduct a full review of the ICPD Programme of Action and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda, based on the regional reviews. This will also inform the first full review of the 2030 Agenda at the UN General Assembly.

In preparation for this review, member States and each region  reviewed their progress since the 2013 regional conferences on population and development. — The writer is the director general, National Council for Population and Development

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