Population Matters

A Triumph for Youth and Adolescents

May 3rd, 2012

Last week the UN hosted the 45th Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  This year’s session, which focused on youth and adolescents, produced a powerful outcomes document that breaks new ground on a host of issues relating to the reproductive health and rights of young people, including the importance of comprehensive sexual education in ensuring that young people are able to make informed choices about their own reproductive health.

I have asked our Public Policy Director, Jennie Wetter, who joined me last week in New York, to report on the historic nature of this year’s session, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with our readers the reflections of Suzanne Ehlers, the President and CEO of Population Action International.  Suzanne has written a terrific blog , “Everything I Needed to Know about the UN I Learned in Kindergarten,” that looks back at the people and processes that led to the final declaration.  It’s a wonderful piece.  I hope you will read her entire blog, but let me share with you a few of her key observations:

The effort last week on behalf of young people around the world resulted in a resolution that speaks plainly but powerfully about adolescents and youth. It speaks to their need for sexual and reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe abortion, and the end to harmful practices like FGM and early and forced marriage. As we move into global reviews of various development-related agreements (from Rio to the ICPD to the MDGs), this CPD resolution gives us wind in our sails for the inevitable hard work ahead.

It reminds us that issues related to young people can be controversial and divisive. It reminds us that international development matters.

And it reminds us that those inspiring little quotes that people put at the bottom of their emails—from Gandhi, Margaret Mead, and the like—are grounded in a deep and sacred truth and deserve to be read daily, in a quiet moment:

Believe in a better world, and then work for it.

Well said.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, President


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