This week, Girls’ Globe has been on the ground at the Nairobi Summit to amplify the voices of grassroots activists, youth leaders and passionate advocates. 25 years ago, in 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development adopted a landmark Programme of Action. There has been significant progress since then, but dramatic inequality remains, and we have a long way still to go. What happens after this year’s summit is crucial.
In this video, we hear from women about their hopes and visions for the future.
“My vision is that we will have all girls being able to access sexual and reproductive health knowledge and rights.” – Mourine Achieng, Moving the Goalposts
The Girls’ Globe team, led by Felogene Anumo and Abigail Arunga, spoke to women who had participated in the 2019 Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 and asked them what they hope to see next.
“It is my hope that we no longer have young people defined by their sexual and reproductive health rights” – Jane Anika, Beijing 25+ Youth Task Force
This year’s summit renewed global focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. A future where all rights of all people are fully realised is possible. By listening to the voices of women and girls, and by responding to their perspectives and priorities, we stand a far greater chance of achieving this ambitious yet crucial goal.
Catch up with all of Girls’ Globe’s coverage of the Nairobi Summit here.
This reporting was supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundaiton.
The Nairobi Summit on the International Conference on Population and Development is taking place 25 years after the first conference was held in Cairo in 1994. The Summit gathers civil society, youth activists, UN leaders, ministers and heads of state in the Kenyan capital this week. There are very many aspects as to why this Summit comes at a critical time. We asked grassroots advocates: “why is the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 important to you?” Here’s what they said…
At the Nairobi Summit commitments are made to accelerate progress and meet goals to eliminate gender based violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and maternal mortality. Commitments include advancing all aspects of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including comprehensive sexual education, LGBTQI rights and access to safe abortion. Other key issues include gender equality, forced migration, indigenous people, and climate change.
“It’s a time to recognize ourselves as decision-makers. That if we stick together and we keep a unified message to protect, defend and ensure our human rights, we are stronger together.” - Genesis Luigi, IPPF and Safe Abortion Access Fund
Girls’ Globe has asked grassroots youth advocates for their input through other channels too. Today, Jennifer Kayombo, a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate from Tanzania took over the Girls’ Globe Instagram stories to share her views on why the summit is important. Yesterday, Sonali Silva, a SheDecides 25×25 Champion from Sri Lanka gave us her opinions and priorities through her takeover.
We know that these voices matter. If women and girls are being listened to at the Summit true change is possible. A lot has happened since 1994, thanks to the women’s rights activists that spearheaded the Programme of Action that was adopted in Cairo. Now is the time for the next generation that is marching and taking action to lead.
In 2012 I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Youth Leader for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Global Youth Forum, held in Bali, Indonesia. The Forum was preceded by extensive interaction at national and global levels on the themes of staying healthy; comprehensive education; families, youth-rights and well-being, including sexuality; transition to decent work; and leadership and meaningful participation.
The conference was one of many global youth conferences being held in the lead up to the ICPD 2014 Review and the Post 2015 Agenda. Around the world consultations with governments, NGOs and civil society are taking place with the goal of documenting and developing a global dialogue on population, poverty, universal healthcare, sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence against women, gender equality, sustainable development, climate change and environment and much more. This is a critical moment for positive change and development to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and build a better future for all, especially girls and young women.
More than half of the world’s population is under the age of 25 and the number of young people is rising fastest in those parts of the world with the lowest economic growth. While it is clear that it is time to place youth rights at the heart of development, progress on youth issues is still lagging in virtually every corner of the world.
As the International Conference on Family Planning is currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia discussions are taking place around youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Girls and young women must be at the heart of these discussions as this critical target group are most vulnerable to violent attacks of their rights and devastating human rights violations.
Violence against young women and SRHR of young women are intricately linked. Acts of sexual violence are a direct attack on sexual rights, impacting on both physical and mental health and the ability exercise one’s sexuality. Likewise, without access to non-judgmental, confidential and evidence-based sexual and reproductive health information and services, young women remain vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections. Every minute a young woman is newly infected with HIV and only one in five young women in developing countries know the basic facts about HIV (UNAIDS, 2011).
Many young women are confronted with the consequences of early and forced marriage and child bearing. Adolescent pregnancies often described as ‘a child birthing another child’ account for 18% of all births in the Latin America and the Caribbean regions alone. Young women who give birth before the age of 18 faced increased risk of complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Young women must have access to comprehensive sexuality and HIV education, reproductive health services and commodities, and the ability to decide freely when to marry and have children, if the right to health is to become a reality. All forms of violence that impact on this right must be eradicated.
Cultural and religious barriers such as parental and spousal consent, and early and forced marriages, should never prevent access to family planning, safe and legal abortion, and other reproductive health services –recognising that young people have autonomy over their own bodies, pleasures, and desire.
To achieve a sustainable and healthy future for all peoples and the environment, young people’s voices and ideas for change must be heard and incorporated into laws and policies that directly or indirectly impact our human rights.
During the Women Deliver conference, I had the great pleasure and honor to interview Tarja Halonen, a woman who was the president of my own home country, Finland, for the past 12 years from 2000 to 2012. She was the 11th elected president of Finland, and our first female head of state.
Being the first female president was not the only way Halonen has pushed the boundaries of gender roles, shattered real and perceived glass ceilings, and advocated for girls’ and women’s rights both during her presidency and after. She is a strong proponent of women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality, particularly in the area of reproductive and sexual health, and currently serves as the co-chair of the High Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development. Halonen participated in several events at Women Deliver, and send out strong and resonating messages to participants both near and far about the importance of keeping sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global agenda as a priority. During a plenary titled “The Development Agenda Through a Woman’s Lens”, Halonen noted:
We need to ensure meaningful progress in sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, as a human right and as an ethical imperative. We need to convince decision makers, particularly in these times of financial constraints, that this is something they should and could do. They need to know that sexual and reproductive health and rights are also, in a way, issues of economics and sustainability of our planet — These are smart, cost-effective investments. You don’t need to choose whether you do right, or whether you do what is smart – You can do both.
President Halonen also called for men and boys to join the cause for promoting gender equality, reminding us that “50% +50% makes 100%”, and both men and women are needed to push the gender equality agenda forward.
Watch the Girls’ Globe interview with President Halonen to find out her thoughts about the post-2015 agenda, the role of countries that are further along with gender equality to support and promote those values in other countries, and on what young people can do in their everyday lives to support women’s and girls’ rights!
Access videos on plenaries and press conferences attended by President Halonen at Women Deliver on the conference’s official live stream page:
Plenary: Women Lead – Opportunities and Challenges with Tarja Halonen;Chelsea Clinton, Board Member of the Clinton Foundation; Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation in America; and Yakin Ertürk, Member of Council of Europe. Moderated by Ghida Fakhry from Al Jazeera.
Panel: The Development Agenda Through a Woman’s Lens with Tarja Halonen; Helen Clark, Administrator at UNDP and former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; and Theo Sowa, CEO, African Women’s Development Fund. Moderated by Frances Kissling, President, Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy. Video remarks from Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General.
Official Press Conferences held during Women Deliver can be accessed here.