This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the ICPD. The ICPD sat our goals on population and development, particularly on what we want to achieve for women and girls sexual and reproductive health and rights. I would like to thank UNFPA and others for producing the ICPD Global Review Report. I would also thank the civil society and research institutions for their valuable contributions in the regional consultations.
The report shows significant achievements since the Cairo conference.
More women and girls have access to education. More women participate in the labor market and in political decision making. Maternal mortality fell by nearly half between 1990 and 2010. And gender equality as a value is firmly placed on the global agenda.
But the report also reveals that many people are missing out on the progress in these areas. Progress is limited to the wealthy, to men more than women, and to those that constitute the ethnic majority in countries. The core of the challenge is inequalities, especially in reproductive health and rights, and what they represent in human suffering and lost development opportunities. In this regard the report is an important input to the Post-2015 development agenda.
Let me mention a few findings that are of particular concern to us.
Adolescent girls in the poorest communities are particularly at risk of losing out. Even though more girls are finishing primary school, they are facing barriers in completing secondary education. 1 in 3 girls in developing countries marry before they are 18; often leading to pregnancies that ends their education. The report is very clear on the need to expand girl’s access to quality health and education, and freedom from early marriage and childbearing. The report recommends more investment in young people, particularly in education and reproductive health, including comprehensive sexuality education. This is the first steps to gender equality, through paid work and political participation in local communities and at the national level. Steps that are crucial for development.
The other area of particular concern is the disturbing finding in the report that one in three women worldwide report they have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Even more disturbing is it that in some instances men admit rape without having to face any consequences. This cannot be tolerated.
The report has a holistic approach. It confirms knowledge in areas such as maternal and newborn health, and the situation of young boys and girls. It stresses the need for non-discrimination and human rights based approach in all our policies. It addresses the migration challenges, not least urbanization that might represent an economic opportunity for young people. It also underlines the need for reliable statistics, a prerequisite for effective policy development and a basis to hold us, the governments, accountable.
The beauty is that the report dears to reflect the challenges that real people are facing in their daily lives. It addresses the situation of sexual minorities that experience discrimination in accessing health services. It discusses abortion legislation. It talks about new forms of families and, not least, it makes the link between the ICPD programme and the climate change challenges already seen in many communities.
Finally, the ICPD Global Review Report gives policy recommendations on how governments must develop new policies, and improve and enforce laws that protect human rights, especially women and girls’ rights and needs. It reminds us that we need to finish the agenda we made in Cairo. Our obligation is to act on what we know.