The United Nations has committed to uphold the human rights of all people, including their right to sexual and reproductive health.
At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi, Kenya this week, the UN also stated it will intensify system-wide efforts to eliminate all preventable maternal and child mortality, to eradicate gender-based violence against women, girls and youth, and to eliminate the unmet need for family planning that constrains the rights and wellbeing of millions of women and young people,
It will also support investments in adolescents and youth that uphold their rights, and support governments in the full and accelerated implementation of the ICPD agenda, in line with the implementation of the SDGs.
The summit was to mark 25 years since the landmark ICDP held in Cairo that produced a Programme of Action which recognized that reproductive health, women’s empowerment and gender equality are critical to sustainable development.
The UN said it will ensure that no one is left behind and that we reach the furthest behind first and incorporate the outcomes of the Nairobi Summit as an integral component in the Decade of Action to deliver on the SDGs.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the world leaders gathered at the conference that the global goal of a sustainable future for all cannot be achieved until women, girls and young people gained control over their own bodies and lives.
She said “Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and upholding women’s rights is a game-changer – for poverty reduction, inclusive growth, democratic governance, peace and justice,” she said.
“The SDGs cannot be achieved until women, girls and young people are able to control their bodies and their lives, and live free of violence. The power to choose the number, timing and spacing of children is a human right that can bolster economic and social development.”
For Ms Mohammed, the Nairobi Summit is also an opportunity to mobilize political and financial momentum towards realizing the SDGs adopted by world leaders in 2015.
Next year will see the start of a Decade of Action ahead of the 2030 deadline.
“We must continue to work even harder towards preventable maternal and child mortality, achieving the unmet need for family planning, and eliminating violence and harmful practices against women and girls everywhere, not least in humanitarian and fragile settings,” the UN deputy chief told the gathering.
As too many are still being left behind, Ms Mohammed called for action.
“Hundreds of millions of women and girls are still waiting for the promise to be kept. They have been waiting long enough,” she said.
“It’s time for urgent and transformative change as we enter the decade of action to 2030.
Arthur Erken, one of the three co-chairs of the International Steering Committee of the Nairobi Summit said”: “The summit is not a platform to prescribe solutions to convening countries and convening delegates. It is an opportunity for governments and other partners to make commitments, and own the process,” says Erken.
ICPD25 which is co-hosted by the governments of Kenya, Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) started on November 12-14, bringing together more than 6,000 delegates from around the world, with at least 164 countries and delegates drawn from civil society organisations, grassroots organisations, young people, business and community leaders, faith-based organisations, indigenous peoples, international financial institutions, people with disabilities, academics and many others working towards the pursuit of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Appreciating the steps taken by UN, Somaliland ambassador to Kenya Bashe Omar said empowerment of women, girls and the youth is key to achieving set goals adding that his country which remains unrecognized by the UN and other international bodies have learnt so much from the summit and will work towards meeting the action plan.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta while opening the summit on Tuesday reassured the world of Kenya’s commitment to the full realization of sustainable human development in line with the United Nations ICPD Programme of Action.
“I would like to restate my personal commitment and that of the Government of Kenya to providing the leadership necessary to ensure that this practice ends within this generation,” the President said.
As part of the comprehensive eleven-point agenda, President Kenyatta said Kenya will ensure that all citizens attain the highest possible standard of health through the elimination of preventable maternal and newborn mortality, mother to child transmission of HIV, teenage pregnancies and new adolescent and youth HIV infections by 2030.
BY ODINDO AYIEKO