Mobilising SRHR commitments at Nairobi Summit

Published 25 November 2019 in:

UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem, Deputy President of Kenya William Ruto and Danish Member of Parliament Karen Ellemann (to the right). Photo: UNFPA.

Some 6 500 delegates from 170 countries gathered at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 on 12–14 November this year.

The summit was co-convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the governments of Kenya and Denmark to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo in 1994.

In 1994, the ICPD was unique in putting SRHR front and centre of the population agenda and national and global development efforts, and its Programme of Action forms the basis of the work of the UNFPA.

Unfinished business

The delegates at the Nairobi Summit included representatives of governments and civil society. They were there to mobilise support for the ICPD Programme of Action and make the political and financial commitments urgently needed to continue its full implementation.

These commitments centre around ending maternal and infant mortality, ending child marriages, ending gender-based violence, and ending female genital mutilation, as well as meeting unmet needs for family planning information and services.

Even issues considered controversial by some delegates – such as access to safe and legal abortions and comprehensive sexuality education – were discussed at the summit.

But despite the resistance to SRHR in some parts of the world, the importance of making progress to “finish the unfinished business” of earlier commitments was a clear message from the conference. Apprehension in the run up to the summit – that opponents of SRHR would cause controversy – proved unfounded, and the summit turned out to be a manifestation of energy and commitment for these issues. One of the main messages was: sexual and reproductive rights are human rights.

Substantive commitments

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya inaugurated the Nairobi Summit, together with UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

President Kenyatta made a national commitment to end child marriage and genital mutilation by 2022. Several countries also made substantive commitments at the summit and pledged additional financing for work on population issues, including SRHR.

Sweden committed to remaining at the forefront and keep pushing for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for everyone at all levels. It will also continue emphasising SRHR for everyone, including young people and LGBTI people. Sweden also committed to continuing our strong financial support to SRHR. Taking SRHR for everyone as seriously nationally, Sweden has initiated a process to develop a national SRHR strategy by 2020.

Broad Swedish delegation

Sweden was represented by a broad delegation led by Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson.

The Swedish delegation included representatives from the Government Offices, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), civil society and youth organisations, as well as members of the Riksdag.

Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden Antje Jackelén participated in several events and was applauded for her approach on SRHR.
Hans Linde, chairman of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, received an award for his longstanding work in the field.

Super year for gender equality

In 2019 and 2020, several international commitments on gender equality are celebrating their anniversaries. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 is one example of how the UN is highlighting these commitments during what has been dubbed a ‘super year for gender equality’.

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