ICPD Beyond 2014 Report

12 FEBRUARY 2014 | UNITED NATIONS; NEW YORK

Twenty years after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a new report released by United Nations -ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report-says development gains from the past 20 years cannot be sustained unless governments tackle the inequalities that hurt the poorest and most marginalized.

The report, which was presented by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, during a press conference, is the first truly global review of progress, gaps, challenges and emerging issues in relation to the landmark ICPD, held in Cairo in 1994. It gathers data from 176 countries alongside inputs from civil society and comprehensive academic research and the findings provide compelling evidence that strongly reinforce the ground-breaking focus of the Cairo Action Programme, which places human rights and individual dignity at the heart of development.

The Cairo Programme of Action according to the report, has significantly contributed to tangible progress: fewer women are dying in pregnancy and childbirth; skilled birth attendance has increased by 15 per cent worldwide since 1990; more women have access to education, work and political participation; more children are going to school, and fewer adolescent girls are having babies. Population growth has also slowed partly as a result of the new approach, which emphasized individual decision-making in population trends.

It also warns that these successes are not reaching everyone equally. In the poorest communities, women’s status, maternal death, child marriage, and many of the concerns of the Cairo Conference have seen very little progress in the last 20 years, and, in fact, in some instances are being reversed. Adolescent girls, in particular, are at risk in the poorest communities, yet if provided with education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and employment opportunities they can support higher economic growth and development. Capitalizing on their aspirations will require deep investments in education and reproductive health, enabling them to delay childbearing and acquire the training needed for long, productive lives in a new economy.

The report also finds, that the global community still must do more to protect women’s rights, even beyond adolescence. Significant gains have been made, particularly with respect to maternal death, which has declined by nearly half (47 per cent) since 1994. Yet, in one of its most alarming statements, the report says that one in three women worldwide still report they have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse and there are areas where many men openly admit rape without facing consequences. And, in no country are women equal to men in political or economic power.

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