Last week, September 2-4, in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) there was a Global NGO Forum held in Berlin, Germany, on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Development. The forum was organized to reengage the NGO community working on sexual and reproductive health issues around the Program of Action from ICPD. It included leaders from NGOs from more than 130 countries with a focus on the Global South and youth.
In 1994 the ICPD created a global consensus around the issues of population growth and development. It shifted the focus to the individual and women in particular, showing that if you provided women with family planning, reproductive health services and focused on girls’ education population numbers would stabilize on their own. Therefore the ICPD pushed for women’s empowerment and put reproductive health in the center of its agenda.
While countries initially put a lot of money behind the Program of Action, over the years support has fallen and it is time for countries to recommit. The Berlin forum worked to release its Call to Action where it stressed that five actions needed to be immediately taken so that the ICPD is able to achieve its goals when it runs out in five years.
1) Guarantee that sexual and reproductive rights, as human rights, are fully recognized and fulfilled.
2) Invest in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information, supplies and services as a priority in health system strengthening.
3) Ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and young people.
4) Create and implement formal mechanism for meaningful civil society participation in programs, policy and budget decisions, monitoring and evaluation.
5) Ensure that national governments and donors allocate sufficient resources and budgets that meet the needs of all people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Hopefully the Berlin NGO Forum will encourage countries around to the world to strengthen their commitments to the ICPD Program of Action when they have their ICPD +15 meetings later this year and more importantly when they are working on their international aid budgets. It is imperative that the international community follows up it rhetoric around the anniversary of the ICPD with real support for its Program of Action.
Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager