27-30 July 1998
DAY 4 (closing)
DAY 0 (preview)
Convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and hosted by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the 27-30 July round-table meeting was part of "ICPD+5", a series of international activities reviewing progress since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. The focus of this meeting was collaboration to promote the Cairo goals, involving a broad range of partners from "civil society" -- non-governmental organizations (NGOs); community institutions; religious leaders; private, business and professional associations; trade unions; and activist groups, among others.
Mirai Chatterjee, general secretary of India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association, offered lessons based on her group’s work mobilizing rural women. She said that women should be accepted as equal partners, rather than be seen as liabilities or merely recipients of charity, and that their significant contributions as workers must be recognized. Women’s right to control their work and health should also be acknowledged. She also said that health and family planning programmes need to be decentralized, and designed and run by local people.
The founder and Executive Director of Youth Development Foundation (YDF) of Ghana, Nelson G. Agyemang, talked about his organization’s grass-roots work on adolescent reproductive health and development in six of the country’s districts and in Cameroon. "Advocacy is both a tool and a goal of social mobilization," he said. The best advocates are those who have experience on a particular issue; are convinced; and take the initiative to do things. To improve their chances of success, advocates should research their audiences, know how to frame the issues, use information from credible, trusted sources, and present their case in a simple, clear and concise manner.
Moushira Al-Shafie, First Under-Secretary of Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population, described how the Government, international agencies and civil society groups had increased their collaboration in advocating for reproductive health, including an expansion of family planning services. One result was their successful advocacy against female genital mutilation, which ultimately led to the practice’s prohibition in Egypt. "Without the help of NGOs and other actors in civil society we would never have made this kind of progress, " she said.
NGOs at Dhaka Round Table Exhibit Their Service
Civil society in Bangladesh is actively involved in providing reproductive health services. In the corridor outside the round-table meeting, staff members from eight NGOs set up display tables illustrating their work with the urban and rural poor. Most of these groups offer integrated programmes combining education, income generation, and health information and services including family planning. Each is supported by bilateral and/or multilateral donors, UNFPA among them.
Several tables displayed handicrafts made by women and girls. The Population Services and Information Training Centre displayed a poster describing the use of different contraceptive methods the group distributes. The Bangladesh Family Planning Association showed a set of panels illustrating the means by which HIV is -- and is not -- spread. Other exhibitors included BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Action Committee), the Khan Foundation, Hellen Keller International, Concerned Women for Family Planning, the Voluntary Health Service Society and Nari Maitree.
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UNFPA, Civil Society and the Programme of Action, ICPD
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The State of World Population 1997: The Right to Choose--Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health