Press Release

Global Conference to Rejuvenate Conversation on Status of Women's Health and Rights

31 August 2009
Author: UNFPA

BERLIN — More than 400 delegates from around the world are scheduled to gather here this week for a new conversation assessing 15 years of work towards better sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for women in developing countries.

Global Partners in Action: a Non-Governmental Organization Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Development is set for 2-4 September at the Estrel Hotel Conference Centre.

Preceded by a Youth Forum of young leaders on 1 September, the conference marks 15 years since the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo brought about a seismic change in thinking on these issues. It moved the global debate from ideas of “control” and “demographics” to a focus on sexual and reproductive health and well-being, with a new emphasis on individual rights and gender equality.

Global Partners in Action will bring together field activists, young people, parliamentarians and representatives of donor countries, multilateral aid organizations and the private sector to start a new dialogue leading to a more vibrant movement. The theme of the gathering will be: Invest in Health, Rights and the Future.
Conference findings will contribute to United Nations observations of ICPD@15 later this year.

An opening news conference is scheduled for Wednesday, 2 September, at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is co-hosting the Forum with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Scheduled news conference and Forum speakers include:

  • Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • Helen Clark, Head of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Gill Greer, Director-General, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  • Laura Villa Torres, Associate Youth Programming, Ipas
  • Nadita Das, Indian filmmaker, actor and activist

For more information about the press conference, or to obtain quotes or photos, please contact MediaCompany at ngo-forum@mediacompany.com, phone +49 (0)30-28 88 45 3 23; Nora Gissel at nora.gissel@gtz.de, phone +49 (0)30-726 14 407

Background

The Programme of Action of the 1994 ICPD, also called the Cairo Consensus, was adopted by 179 governments. It recognized that comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning, is essential for individual and national development, and is also one of the most cost-effective ways to alleviate poverty.

Every international conference and re-evaluation of the Cairo Consensus since 1994 has reaffirmed those principles. The ICPD target of universal access to reproductive health was incorporated into Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 (improve maternal health) in 2007. The principles are widely viewed as central to achievement of all the other MDGs and share the MDG deadline of 2015.

The Programme of Action that emerged from the ICPD offered a roadmap for the next 20 years. But 15 years on, have we followed that roadmap?

  • Over 200 million women want but currently lack access to modern contraceptives, and demand for contraception is expected to increase by 40 per cent by 2050.
  • More than 1.5 billion people are now between 10 and 25 years old, the largest generation of young people in history. They will all need sexual and reproductive health education and services.
  • Some 33 million people now live with HIV, with 2.7 million new infections in 2007, most of which are sexually transmitted.
  • Every year, more than half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth, including 67,000 from unsafe abortion. Millions more suffer injury, illness, or disability.

While the ICPD offered a visionary plan, political leadership and financial commitment to carry it out have been lacking. Between 1994 and 2008, global funding for reproductive health as a proportion of health aid dropped from 30 per cent to 12 per cent.

The challenges today are perhaps greater than those of 1994: a world financial crisis, climate change, increasing religious fundamentalism, and fragmented health systems, for example. The Global NGO Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Development will act as a clarion call to reinvigorate the ICPD Programme of Action. Strengthening sexual and reproductive health and rights is a pressing international need, one on which the future of humankind may well depend.

***

Contact Information:

Catherina Hinz
Director - Communications and Advocacy
Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)
(Contact for German journalists)
Email: catherina.hinz@dsw-hannover.de
Tel: +49 511 943 7320 | Cell: +49 162 471 5969

Jennifer Woodside
Head of Advocacy & Communications
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
(Contact for European journalists)
Email: jwoodside@ippf.org
Tel: +44 20 793 982 27

Kathy Bonk
Executive Director
Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC)
(Contact for US journalists)
Email: kbonk@ccmc.org
Tel: +1 202 326 6767 | Cell: +1 202 716 8959

 

Germany
Population : 83.8 mil
Fertility rate
1.6
Maternal Mortality Ratio
7
Contraceptives prevalence rate
61
Population aged 10-24
14.9%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 86%
Girls 85%

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