UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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State of World Population
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Action Priorities

Partnership with Civil Society
Resources for Implementing the Programme of Action
Priorities for Action


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 important.

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.

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