The ICPD stands for International Conference on population and Development and was since enacted in 1994. Therefore whoever attended the conference was a ’94 child. This conference spoke for diversity, and the need to end preventable maternal death, meet all women’s demand for family planning, and stop violence against women and girls by 2030.
History of the ICPD
In 1994, 179 governments from all over the world met in Cairo, Egypt and adopted the groundbreaking ICPD Programme of Action, positioning rights at the center of sustainable development, and recognizing reproductive rights as human rights, as well as young people and adolescents as rights holders in regards to their sexual and reproductive health.
Further more, since the ICPD, gains have been made in strengthening maternal health care and expanding access to quality contraceptive information and services. But there are still many young women who have not benefited from these gains, with more than 800 dying during pregnancy and childbirth.
The aim is to put a stop to gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
The bold, rights-based vision of the ICPD – that development must put young people first, that attention must be paid to strengthening equal access to health, education, and human dignity for all persons – anticipated the bold, ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda
Commitments made in 1994
Some of the commitments made in the ICPD Programme of Action (1994) to young people include:
- Realization of the right to education and attainment of a secondary school education
- Delaying marriage beyond childhood and ensuring free and full choice in marriage-related decisions
- Exercise of the right to health, including access to friendly health services and counseling
- Access to health-promoting information, including on sexual and reproductive matters
- Acquisition of protective assets and agency, particularly among girls and young women, and promotion of gender equitable roles and attitudes
- Protection from gender-based violence; and socialization in a supportive environment. These are crucial for a successful transition to adulthood.
Being the home of the ICPD, every year Egypt hosts youth representatives from across the world to review achieved progress and challenges in relation to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. The ICPD Model emphasizes that in years to come, young people will be crucial to advancing not just the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda but all social movements.
This year, the 2-day conference had a total of 120 countries that were represented. The sessions were distributed into 3 sections including;
- Adolescent & Youth Reproductive Health Package
- Gender Equality and Harmful Practices
- Data and Demographic Dividend.
My involvement in the Youth Model ICPD
I have come to the realization that every mission, and appointment is not coincidental. It has a role it plays in the agenda of global dominion. Perhaps if we thought deeper about the common adage “there is a reason for everything”, then we would take seriously the things that happen to us, and the places we are taken to.
So while at this outstanding conference organized at the JW Marriot, a voting had to happen in which a Secretary General, 3 Deputy Secretary Generals and Rapporteurs were to be chosen. Whoever nominated themselves had to go through the grueling process to convince the rest of the ICPDians on why they deserved the post. It is almost next to impossible to try and convince a people who do not speak, and slightly understand the English Language… When my turn came, I spoke as eloquently as I could, promising the ICPDians to have a more engaging session when I take control as Deputy SG.
I got voted the most, and happened to be leading first session which was the Adolescent & Youth Reproductive Health Package.
My role as Deputy SG included;
- Request country delegations that were prepared/interested/ready to speak on the “Solutions from around the Globe” topic. This would call for country delegates to submit challenges, and recommendations according to their country’s demographic.
- Select 15 countries to submit on the topic for 2 minutes.
- Announce a one-hour moderated caucus that allows delegates to make short comments on a specific sub-area collected by rapporteurs during country presentations with the help of mentors
- Announce the end of the Caucus time, and call for a one hour lunch break
From the caucus time, here are the commitments that put forward by different country delegations.
While I was DSG, I picked on Uganda, and my colleague submitted a 2 minute presentation on what Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health looks like in the Pearl of Africa.
The recommendations we put forward during the presentation reflected what UNFPA Uganda, and Reach A Hand Uganda, have done to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services, reinforce a holistic understanding of individuals’ sexual and reproductive well-being, as well as access to education, and services for youths.
These recommendations included;
- Collaborative partnerships with the Ministry of Education and Sports to integrate Life Planning skills education into school curriculum.
- Integration of Youth friendly services and safe spaces into Public Health centres
- Youth counseling, access to family planning and HIV/AIDS services as packages to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.
These recommendations and commitments will be presented at the ICPD Conference in Nairobi that starts today until November 14th . The #NairobiSummit aims at mobilizing political will and financial commitments from leaders to urgently implement the ICPD Programme of Action. #ICPD25
My observation while at the ICPD youth Model was that every young person representing their country was heard, and their opinion considered. All challenges and recommendations that were fronted by country representatives were take note of. It would be bias for me to state that organizations, entities and governments could go a long way if they adopted the UN Model of deliberation. However, if you are looking to pick the mind of everyone in the room, you must give them a chance to speak.
The reason we have youths still demonstrating with placards saying “Our voices are not heard“, is because usually a handful are given chance to speak and “represent” the rest is still and will produce a multitude of discontented youths as long as it goes on.
Day 2 was dedicated to voting for the adoption of the different commitments that were fronted from the caucus meetings on the 3 sessions. Senegal was not comfortable with the way a commitment regarding Gender was stated and therefore rejected the document until it was corrected. Now that is active youth participation.
Uganda endorsed the report that had the commitments from all 3 sessions. And finally, the passing of the report developed in the lead up to ICPD @25 happened.
The 2nd day entailed creative learning that consisted of 5 forms of translating recommendations of Youth Model ICPD into creative forms through five facilitated workshops including Art, Film, Theatre, Dance, and Social Media. Below are some of the activities different workshops got to pull off.
I figured you might think we were about intensive learning. However, UNFPA Egypt office really outdid themselves in organizing the conference. There were plenty of other events, I almost couldn’t keep up.. (I intend to write a blog on Your guide through Egypt). However for now, here goes.
On the official opening date, Tuesday 15th October, we had a dinner at the Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel. On the night of the first day of the conference, we had a run at the Citadel which is a medieval islamic fort built by Egyptian rulers. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Its location commands such an envious view of the city. It shines with bright playful lighting. The run lasted 5 minutes and the finish line was lined with all sorts of speakers playing Egyptian music.
The night of the 2nd night, we had dinner at the JW Marriot’s open space.. And while everyone else was dancing, I was out taking memorable pictures of the Hotel’s curtain draping, wall hangings and art.
On Thursday, we visited the Pyramids (look out for my guide through Egypt Blog Kale).
And now, allow me sign out… Take care little darlings because the Father who art in Heaven loves you dearly.