A year ago today, 8,300 delegates from 170 countries descended on Nairobi to recommit to the goals set forth at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. The landmark conference declared reproductive and sexual health as a fundamental right and affirmed empowering women and girls is the bedrock to a just, safe, and equitable world.
The 2019 Nairobi Summit advanced the Cairo agenda. Governments, corporations, organizations, and individuals pledged more than $8 billion and 1,300 commitments toward meeting three zeros by 2030, the same deadline for accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals: zero unmet need for family planning; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation.
COVID-19 has made the path more challenging but not impossible. In September, UNFPA assembled a high-level commission to keep the Nairobi commitments on track, to build on our momentum and let victories fuel more victories. Major donor governments are delivering—and exceeding—amounts announced last year toward an ambitious, achievable vision of rights and choices for all.
“The commitments made in Nairobi are more critical now than ever before. Far from dampening our ambition, COVID-19 has only sharpened our focus and resolve,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “I am heartened to see so many government, private sector and civil society partners take bold steps to sustain our collective efforts and deliver on our promises to women and girls.”
Anniversaries mark an occasion of great import and serve as a reminder of both progress made and the work that remains. They can also be opportunities to renew faith and hope in a chosen path. This path began in Cairo, continued to Nairobi and will lead to a better, brighter tomorrow.