Executive Director’s Spotlight on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Partners
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo was a landmark in transforming global thinking on population and development issues. 179 governments adopted the ICPD Programme of Action, which affirmed that inclusive sustainable development is not possible without prioritizing human rights, including reproductive rights; empowering women and girls; and addressing inequalities as well as the needs, aspirations and rights of individual women and men.
As the world approaches the 30th anniversary of the ICPD in 2024, we have to devastatingly admit that we have not seen the progress we hoped for in 1994. Especially in the last couple of years, we have experienced backsliding on the rights and choices of women and girls, much of which is due to the increasing polarization of the sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda. As a result, every year 270 million women of reproductive age (14-49 years) cannot access contraception; approximately 35 million experience induced unsafe abortions and 287,000 pay with their lives during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Not only are these deaths preventable, as the healthcare solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known and would provide multiple health, social and economic benefits.
The above situation requires more of each one of us as we move forward. We need to be bolder, smarter and more determined to succeed in ensuring that everyone of reproductive age has access to essential SRH services and that restrictive laws and policies, gender norms, stereotypes, and inequalities are changed or removed. I would like to spotlight
UN Commissions/intergovernmental processes
- The ICPD 30 review will provide a platform for member states and partners to come together to celebrate the achievements and position ICPD for the future. At the United Nations, the ICPD 30 will be featured in the 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development in April next year. H.E. Ambassador Noemi Espinoza Madrid (Honduras) is currently Chair of the Commission and we rely on her leadership and support, together with other members of the Commission, in ensuring a successful outcome of the upcoming CPD session in 2024.
- UNFPA with the amazing Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem and her team, tirelessly champion the rights and choices of women and children. The role of UNFPA in providing evidence, data and technical support to member states and partners is critical, especially as it relates to ICPD progress. I would also like to especially shine a light on Diene Keita, Julitta Onabanjo and Will Zeck for their critical efforts and partnership. For the latest State of World Population report published by UNFPA, see 8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The case for rights and choices.
- With the leadership of Dr Pascale Allotey in WHO’s Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research and the UN Special Programme on Human Reproduction (HRP), and with the unwavering support of Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO and HRP play a key global role in the advancement of evidence-based sexual and reproductive health and rights across the life course. Over the last five decades, HRP has generated evidence that has influenced guidelines and improved the lives of millions of people, often addressing topics considered too sensitive or controversial by many. Recent releases include Maternal Mortality Estimates, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Safe Abortion Guidelines, Self-Care Guidelines and Roadmap to Combat Postpartum Haemorrhage.
Civil society organizations and networks
- As the global family planning partnership, FP2030 stands at the forefront and advocates for greater investment in family planning, and the integration of family planning with maternal, newborn, and child health, HIV, climate justice and gender equality. They have seen more than 42 country governments commit to its goals since its launch. 89 non-government partners, including donors, civil society organizations and the private sector, are working towards strengthening family planning at various levels. As more and more young people enter their reproductive years, and as more women seek greater access to a wide range of methods, demand for family planning is growing across all regions. Dr. Samukeliso Dube, Executive Director and her team are doing an excellent job. See family planning commitments.
Private sector and foundations
- Another critical partner in SRHR is The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. The Foundation has provided substantial investments in abortion and contraceptives and funds sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. Their commitment to building sustainable systems ensures that services persist long after their grantmaking ends. With annual investments of over $500 million, the foundation has been pivotal to helping transform systems and strengthen the organizations and institutions. A special mention and thanks go to Dr Senait Fisseha, Vice President of Global Programs for her leadership, commitment and stamina in promoting accelerated action on SRHR.
I commend the above champions of ICPD for their unwavering dedication to advancing SRHR and paving the way towards our common goal of sexual and reproductive justice, propelling global development and empowering individuals to make informed choices about their lives.