UNITED NATIONS, New York —World leaders resolved to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015, promote gender equality and end discrimination against women, as they ended their three-day 2005 World Summit on Friday night.
They made those commitments by adopting the Summit Outcome recommended by the General Assembly. By the terms of their agreement, the leaders would integrate the goal of access to reproductive health into national strategies to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to end poverty, reduce maternal death, promote gender equality and combat HIV/AIDS.
“Five years after the Millennium Declaration, the world has reaffirmed the need to keep gender equality, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health at the top of its agenda,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. “This outcome is a success for millions of women, men and young people all over the world, whose appeals have been heard. We must now focus our energy on fulfilling the commitments made by world leaders.”
“The leaders’ resolve to bring reproductive health to all has confirmed the vision of the agenda adopted at the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development,” said Ms. Obaid. “UNFPA looks forward to working with governments to expand access to comprehensive reproductive health services such as family planning, skilled attendance at birth, emergency obstetric care and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.”
“We must act now on the commitments and empower the largest-ever generation of young people knocking on adulthood’s door,” said Ms. Obaid. “We cannot fail and consign them to lives of misery, ill health and unfulfilled dreams. The cost is too terrifying to contemplate.”
Turning to women’s rights, the world’s leaders agreed to promote gender equality and eliminate pervasive gender discrimination with several measures. They would include:
- Eliminating gender inequalities in schools;
- Guaranteeing the free and equal right of women to own and inherit property;
- Ensuring equal access to reproductive health;
- Promoting women’s equal access to work;
- Eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls; and
- Promoting increased women’s representation in government decision-making bodies.
The largest-ever gathering of world leaders reaffirmed that the full implementation of the goals and objectives of the Declaration and Platform for Action of the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference is an essential contribution to achieving world development goals. They declared: “We remain convinced that progress for women is progress for all.”
Recognizing that HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases hampered development and threatened the world, the leaders pledged to increase investments to improve health systems in poor countries. The aim was to provide sufficient supplies, health workers and facilities.
The leaders committed to measures to increase the capacities of adults and adolescents to protect themselves from HIV infection, according to the Summit Outcome. They would also provide stronger leadership; scale up a comprehensive response to achieve multisectoral coverage for prevention, care, treatment and support for those threatened by HIV/AIDS; and mobilize more resources to fully implement the commitments in the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. Substantial funding, they pledged, would be given to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and to the anti-HIV/AIDS work of United Nations bodies, according to the agreement.
In actions that recall “Quick Wins” proposed in January 2005 by the development experts of the Millennium Project, the world leaders resolved to urgently carry out initiatives that would improve people’s lives immediately. They would act to distribute mosquito nets and eliminate fees for primary schools and, where appropriate, health care services. Expanding access to reproductive health and ending shortages in commodities were among the Millennium Project’s proposed “Quick Wins”—priority actions that could bring breathtaking results within three or fewer years.
UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
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