Press Release

Caribbean Reaffirms Commitment to Reproductive Health, Gender Equality

12 November 2003
Author: UNFPA

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – Twenty Caribbean countries and territories today reaffirmed their unequivocal commitment to the action programme of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). They also declared that implementation of the programme is "essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals" including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Meeting to assess their progress in carrying out the ICPD Programme of Action nearly 10 years after its adoption, the countries pledged to ensure reproductive rights and health, gender equality and the empowerment of women. They also recognized the rights of adolescents to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information, education and services.

Calling HIV/AIDS a major threat to the region’s economic and social structures, they vowed to fight the pandemic through prevention, treatment and care in the context of reproductive health programmes.

Turning to broader issues, the Caribbean countries stated that their populations, economies and societies had been hurt by structural adjustment programmes, heavy debt repayments and inequitable trade practices. They called on international donors to increase financial support for implementation of the ICPD programme.

At the start of the two-day meeting, Camille Robinson-Regis, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Planning and Development, hailed the 1994 Cairo conference as “revolutionary in its thinking and concepts”.

“No longer was the issue of population only about numbers—it was and is about living, breathing human beings facing life’s daily challenges,” she said. “It is about gender equality and equity, and the rejection of all forms of gender-based violence. It is about preparing for a wanted baby and providing for its healthy childhood. It is about improving the quality of life of all mankind.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s national policies on population and development are guided by the Cairo programme and its objectives of sustained economic growth, reduction of maternal and child death, and universal access to reproductive health services, Ms. Robinson-Regis stated.

Marisela Padron, Director of the Latin America and the Caribbean Division of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, commended Caribbean countries’ efforts to implement the ICPD programme despite limited financial resources. While they have cut infant and maternal deaths, she said, much remains to be done to ensure equal access to reproductive health services for all.

“UNFPA will remain at the side of Caribbean women as they seek to have healthy, wanted babies and survive to raise them in a nurturing environment that looks after their reproductive health and respects their reproductive rights. UNFPA will remain at the side of Caribbean men as they engage in reproductive health programmes. UNFPA will remain at the side of Caribbean societies as they promote gender equality and combat gender violence,” she declared.

The meeting was held at subregional headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The acting director, Daniel Blanchard, said the commission is committed to helping Caribbean governments translate global and regional commitments into national action plans.

The meeting’s outcome will contribute to an assessment next year of the implementation of the Cairo programme throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus

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