Watch for ICPD 25 Coverage from Nairobi

This week, CanWaCH team members are in Kenya for the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25. Did you know that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo? This was when 179 governments adopted a landmark Programme of Action which set out to empower women and girls for their sake, and for the benefit of their families, communities and nations. The world has made incredible progress since then, but we need to keep pushing forward if we are going to reach the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Here are some updates from our team: 

November 14, 2019 

A Feminist Approach to Humanitarian Action 

Of the 143 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than one in four are women and adolescent girls of reproductive age whose rights, safety and dignity are often violated and must be protected. This special session highlighted a feminist approach to humanitarian action as a means of addressing challenges and accelerating progress to achieve the ICPD and 2030 agendas. 

panel at Nairobi Summit on ICPD25

Christopher MacLennan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Issues and Development Global Affairs Canada, spoke about Canada's experience in taking a feminist approach to development and humanitarian assistance.  "Humanitarian assistance works within a big system and we are dependent on that system to understand where and what the needs of refugees are. However, if those assessments being undertaken by that big system aren't taking into consideration the needs of women and girls, what women want, that means that we need to do our own assessments and that delays the rollout of our assistance. We need the system to change and to be responsive to the needs of women and girls. 

plan international ceo giving up her seat on a panel to a young activist from South Sudan

While moderating the session, Katja Iversen, President & CEO of Women Deliver, challenged panellists to speak to how they will cede their power to lift up the voices of women and girls in fragile contexts. In response, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer of Plan International, announced that she would leave the stage and give her seat to Christine from South Sudan. Christine shared her experience living in conflict and the lack of the most basic access to SRHR services.  

Closing Ceremony 

closing ceremony at the nairobi summit on icpd25

Two young activists stole the show at the Closing Ceremony! The first, a 10-year-old refugee from South Sudan said: "We are the generation born after Cairo and we are ready to accelerate the promise. We are ready to commit to realizing a world where young girls can become powerful leaders like Dr. Natalia Kanem. My commitment as a young person is to go beyond zero". The second young activist, a 14-year-old girl from the Kibera Slum in Nairobi called on all decision-makers in the room, and those who weren't, to create safe spaces for girls. "We are here. We are ready. And we are going to accelerate the promise". 

Karen Ellemann, Danish Member of Parliament, spoke about how sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a co-conveyor of the Summit, the Denmark delegation is proud of the following three takeaways: 

  1. We wanted this to be an inclusive space and this has been achieved to the fullest
  2. We wanted the active involvement of youth to be front and centre at the Summit and this has happened 
  3. We wanted to focus on how and we received 1250 commitments. These commitments will ensure that we stick to our promise to all women and girls. 

Ellemann closed by saying her remarks with an important call to action: "Enough talking, now we are walking and leaving no one behind". 

Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director, gave a shout out to Canada, among other countries, for its financial commitment to accelerating the promise. Dr. Kanem also announced that UNFPA will create a new high-level commission to drive this agenda and our commitment forward. She closed by reaffirming the global commitment to the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls around the world: "We do it because women and girls matter. Sexual and reproductive health and rights matter. This is what unites us all". 

November 13, 2019 

photo of organizing partners at canadian reception for Nairobi Summit

CanWaCH was proud to host the Canadian reception for ICPD25 with the High Commission of Canada to Kenya, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) at the Offical Residence of Canada.

Julia Anderson, CanWaCH's Chief Operating Officer, spoke to the importance of having difficult conversations as we work to achieve the ICPD Programme of Action. Sometimes, the best work is done is when we leave our comfort zones. So, let's continue to have these challenging conversations even after the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 is over.

The rest of the evening also served as a great reminder of the importance of partnership and the power of collaboration as we work to advance global health and gender equality around the world. 

November 12, 2019 

Summit Welcome 

photo of the crowd at the welcome session at the nairobi summit on icpd25

Summit attendees were welcomed to the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, co-hosted by the Government of Kenya, the Government of Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund. The session included keynote addresses from some of today’s leading advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights: 

“We have unfinished business. Millions of girls are waiting for this promise to be kept. That time has come with the commitment of all of us here to do our part” - Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations 

photo of the crowd at the welcome session at the nairobi summit on icpd25

“The way forward is to focus on one number only - ZERO. Zero unmet need for contraception. Zero preventable maternal deaths. Zero gender-based violence. Zero is the only acceptable target and it is within our power to achieve it” - Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 

“I don’t want to be here in 2030 unless we are here celebrating the promise fulfilled… The young people at the summit are the leaders and voices of today, tomorrow and the future. Let us march together in solidarity with women and girls around the globe. Let us march for the fulfilment of the promise made in Cairo 25 years ago” - Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark

Commitment Sessions: 

Canada took to the global stage to highlight its recent $1.4B annual investment to champion the health and rights of women and girls around the world, reaffirm its commitment to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights and called on other states to follow suit! #LeadOnCanada 

Partnership for Change: Ending FGM/C by 2030 

crowd at "partnership for change: ending fgm/c" event in Nairobi, Kenya

Amref Health Africa, COVAW, Orchid Project & Tostan hosted a panel discussion to highlight how, through collaborative partnerships, we can achieve the ICPD Programme of Action and Agenda 2030 visions of a world free from female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). 

“One of the biggest achievements since 1994 has been in the area of collecting data and conducting surveys on not only FGM but a wide range of issues. But, we still have a long way to go” - Nafissatou Diop, Senior Advisor and Coordinator of UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on the elimination of FGM.