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Gov’t unveils commitment at ICPD25 summit

By: Sheila Ponnie

The International Conference on Population and Development [ICDP] programme of Action was adopted in 1994 among 197 United Nations Member states. The ICDP programme is a forward-looking human development plan that put human rights of individuals rather than numerical population targets at the centre of the global development agenda. 

This year’s 25th Anniversary Summit Conference, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, was attended by more than 6,000 delegates from more than 170 countries and featured high profile guests such as the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and the leader of the Summit host country, President Uhuru Kenyatta, among hundreds of other business, church and political leaders and influencers.

Jemma Nunu Kumba, Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare represented the Government of South Sudan.  Yesterday, on the closing day, of the three day conference, saying the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, is proud to be a part of this milestone conference, she presented the Government’s National Action plan, that pledges to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls, men and boys as part of the commitment to the ICPD effort.

One commitment Minister Kumba pointed out was the pledge, over the remaining 5 years of the plan, that the South Sudan Government will work to achieve universal sexual and reproductive health and rights, by “committing to train and deploy at least 3,900 more midwives by 2030 and to achieve a ten per cent (10%) contraceptive prevalence rate by 2020 and increasing that to at least thirty percent by 2030.

Additionally, as part of a comprehensive, eleven-point agenda, Kumba said the Government of South Sudan commits to fully implement age-appropriate life skills and sexual education in all primary and secondary schools by 2025 and to create a financing momentum.

 “We commit to increase budget allocation for health sector from the current one percent to five percent of the national budget the fiscal year 2020-2021 graduating to 15% by 2030 in line with the Abuja Declaration and to establish the Maternal Mortality reduction fund.

Recent studies report that one in five women alone, from all corners of the world, experience gender-based violence.

Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director UNFPA noted that in the few moments that she spoke, “countless people have been sexually abused, hurt and traumatized these victims and survivors are more likely to be shamed and blamed than the perpetrators who attacked them,” she said.

Kanem also emphasised that reproductive rights of women and girls are not up for negotiation and they should be respected by everyone.

Supportive of the ICPD Summit goals, Kenyan, President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the large audience of attendees and said, “Because our women are the gatekeepers to family health, they exert such a powerful influence on intergenerational outcomes for their children, empowering women essentially empowers all our families, our nations and it empowers the world”.

This summit marks 25 years after the ground-breaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICDP) where 179 governments called for advancing gender equality and securing sexual and reproductive health for everyone. Since then, many commitments have been agreed upon which include imperative improvements of maternal health. Yet many of its aims, for instance, such as the target of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent have not yet been achieved. 

Beyond South Sudan’s commitment to women and girl issues, the country has pledged to pursue and improve any shortcomings in the areas of demographic diversity, sustainable development, youth engagement, child marriages and gender-based violence.

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said, “The Nairobi Summit represents a renewed, re-energized vision and community working together to act and deliver. Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the center of everything we do.”

Governments including Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, together with the European Commission, committed around $1 billion in support.

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