Commission on Population Development 2009 statement

IPPF Oral Statement to the 42nd Session of the Commission on Population and Development.

On behalf of its 152 community-based Member Associations around the world, IPPF is pleased to have this opportunity to address the Commission on the 15th anniversary of the landmark Cairo conference.

We believe that there is clear evidence that the ICPD Programme of Action is crucial to the achievement of the MDGs, in particular the health MDGs and MDG 3. However, MDG 5, - which is closest to the spirit of Cairo - is the furthest from realization. The full implementation of the visionary and still unfinished agenda of Cairo is essential for the elimination of poverty, sustainable, social and economic development in an inter-dependent world, and for the achievement of equity, social justice and human rights.

IPPF calls on all Member States to work in genuine partnership with civil society, parliamentarians, and their communities and the private sector, to deliver the promises made in 1994, 1999 at the Special Sessions on HIV and AIDS, the 2000 review of the MDGs, at Paris and at Accra and here at the United Nations last September. Above all, we call for urgent steps to address maternal mortality and morbidity, recognising that pregnancy –related factors including unsafe abortion are the major cause of death for girls under 19. There is clear evidence now to demonstrate the importance of linkages between HIV and AIDS prevention, VCT and services, family planning, and a comprehensive approach to reproductive health. We urge that these linkages be expanded to halt the epidemic which continues to undermine development and in order to ensure the reproductive rights of those people living with HIV and AIDS, and especially the rights of young people to knowledge, information and services as they increasingly bear the brunt of the epidemic.

Women are the drivers of development. Girls count and women matter. Violence against women, forced early marriage and denial of their sexual and reproductive rights continue to rob women of their rightful place.

When women have the means to choose the number and spacing of their children they will generally choose more for their children, not more children. The ability to make this choice, or make this decision, is vital for individual health and well-being, sustainable families and communities and a sustainable planet.

The time has come to reinvigorate family planning, to ensure all women have the basic right to chose the number and spacing of their children, to meet the unmet need of some 200 million women, and the needs of the world’s largest ever generation of young people, comprehensive sexuality education, youth friendly services and access to a wide range of contraceptive methods including male and female condoms, which will prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs, including HIV and AIDS. To deny them this is to place their lives in danger.

A comprehensive approach to MDG 5 and the Cairo agenda will also ensure that the needs of the forgotten and marginalised including refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), and women and girls in conflict situations, are recognised and addressed.

We must invest now in the future. Yet the Cairo agenda and a comprehensive approach to MDG 5 are largely invisible in discussions about health systems strengthening, and economic growth and new aid compacts. This needs to be addressed urgently. Those born in 1994 are now 15, how well will the world meet their needs?

At a time of global crisis brought about by climate change and the financial recession there are many urgent priorities. There is no MDG for young people but in the visionary spirit of Cairo the highest priority must be investment in young people, and young people’s health, well-being and development, their knowledge and rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights. That investment can transform the world. That investment must be at the very centre and heart of development as we move towards 2015 and beyond, hopefully to a framework that places young people at its centre, together with sexual and reproductive rights.

Only then can we eliminate poverty, only then can the world have a brighter future. That is the investment that must be our legacy and history will judge us accordingly. Delegates, we must understand the urgency of now, and act.