Leaders commit to end maternal deaths, violence

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) officially opened yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya with commitments to end preventable maternal deaths, meet all women’s demands for family planning and stop violence against women and girls by 2030.

The three-day Nairobi Summit is taking place 25 years after the landmark ICPD in Cairo, Egypt. During the Cairo meeting, 179 governments, including Malawi, adopted an action plan for women’s empowerment and sexual and reproductive health for all.

Addressing delegates at the official opening, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the need to accelerate the promise of Cairo to build sustainable vibrant and inclusive societies.

Kenyatta (3R), Kanem (2R) and other dignitaries being introduced at the summit

He said: “If we fail to deliver on the Cairo promise, we risk consigning our children to a less secure future than we inherited.”

Kenyatta also noted that advancing women’s rights, choices and well-being was a path to prosperous and resilient societies as women were the bedrock of communities.

On her part, UNFPA executive director Natalia Kanem said the summit presents an opportunity to complete the ICPD’s unfinished business.

She said: “Since the Cairo ICPD, we have put women and girls at the centre of global development. This has paid off time and again. But that ICPD vision is still far from reality, and that journey that began 25 years ago in Cairo is far from over.”

According to UNFPA, since the 1994 ICPD, gains have been made in strengthening maternal health care and expanding access to quality contraceptive information and services. But there are still many who have not benefited from these gains, with more than 800 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth every day and 232 million women wanting to prevent pregnancy but not using a modern contraceptive.

The Nairobi Summit seeks to tackle these problems as well as put a stop to gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the current age of urbanisation, increased migration, population growth and an ageing population growth, the ICPD programme of action has never been more relevant for people especially girls and women.

Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation Rasmus Prehn committed that his government will continue supporting the ICPD Agenda. Hosted by the governments of Denmark and Kenya and UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, the summit seeks to mobilise political will and secure financial commitments to make sexual and reproductive health a reality for everyone, everywhere. Malawi has representatives from the Ministry of Health and Population, UNFPA country office, the National Planning Commission, youth leaders and civil society, among others.

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