The ICPD in 1994 gave practical meaning to humancentred
development. The Programme of Action acknowledges
that investing in people and broadening their
opportunities and capabilities is indispensable to achieving
sustained economic growth and alleviating poverty.
The Cairo consensus stimulated a global response:
- It facilitated further advances in international
understandings about women’s health and empowerment
that were articulated at the Fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995;
- It promoted a focus on individuals’ opportunities in
the development dialogue and put it at the centre of
population policies and strategies;
- It was a catalyst for an increased role for civil society
organizations in the development dialogue;
- It legitimized international agreements on resource
needs to attain development targets.
Through such results, it helped pave the way for
the Millennium Development Goals.
In this decade, progress has been made in national,
regional and international policies consistent with the
ICPD vision. Reproductive health has been advanced in
policies and institutions. The diversity of demographic
situations around the world has been recognized, and
nations have been working to design policies and programmes
responsive to felt needs.
Topics that were previously ignored in policy
discussions—like harmful traditional practices,
gender-based violence, adolescent reproductive health,
post-abortion care, the health needs of refugees and
people living in emergency situations, the security of
supplies of reproductive health and family planning
commodities, and the role of culture as a vehicle for
advancing basic human rights—are now routinely
addressed and acted on.
Much has changed in the world since 1994.
The ideological and institutional environment for
development initiatives has been dramatically
transformed. Decentralization in decision-making,
changing balances of public and private responsibilities,
new financing mechanisms and budgetary
constraints, sector-wide reform efforts, disease-specific
vertical programmes and the increased priority given
to poverty reduction have transformed the terms of
discussion and action.
Yet the person-centred participatory vision of
national action at the heart of the ICPD Programme of
Action is today more relevant than ever. As the world
seeks to reach the ambitious goals of the Millennium
Summit, political commitment and the devotion of
adequate financial and human resources to implement
the ICPD Programme of Action remain centrally
Better maternal and child health, gender equality,
educational advancement, poverty reduction, environmental
quality and improved development partnerships
all depend on mobilizing the political will and
funding needed to realize the Cairo consensus.
Universal access to reproductive health, education and
social participation are vital to personal and national
dignity, security and progress in alleviating poverty.