By: Gill Greer, Director-General of IPPF
In 2010, after too many years of neglect and denial, the value of women's and girls’ lives was finally recognised by Heads of State at the MDG summit, in the Muskoka G8 initiative, and in the Global Strategy for Women's and Childrens Health, ‘Every Woman Every Child’. Billions were pledged and promises made, by donor and partner governments, foundations, civil society, NGOs, professional groups and others. Yet two initiatives, which drove the largest commitments to women's and children's health in many years and inspired optimism for a better world, came from outside the MDG and ICPD frameworks. But this is not surprising when we consider recent history.
The ICPD was a truly visionary framework integrating maternal, reproductive and sexual health, education, sustainable development and population dynamics. It focussed on individuals and couples, and on young people; it called for sexuality education, and for urgency in tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic; it identified the level of funding required, and partnerships that could turn the vision into reality. It was in many ways the road map for the MDGs, but somewhere, somehow, the roadmap was lost. The goal of universal access to reproductive health was omitted from the MDG framework, yet those goals could not be achieved without it. By the time it officially became target MDG5B in 2007, international funding for family planning had halved, women and girls continued to die because of unplanned pregnancy, unsafe abortion, maternal morbidity continued to escalate, and opportunities to integrate HIV and family planning in a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health had been lost.
Whether ICPD or the MDGs continue, or are replaced by a new framework, this cannot be allowed to happen again. Whatever the new development framework is to be it must include a far stronger goal for women’s empowerment, because unless the paradigm of inequity is addressed, development cannot be achieved. It should have at its heart, a goal for young people, the largest generation of young people the world has ever seen, whose needs for SRH services and education are all too often ignored. It should be based on human rights.
It should be grounded in internationally agreed and legally binding treaties and conventions, and resolutions from the UN Human Rights Council. Any goal related to partnership must explicitly include the complementary relationship between governments and civil society so carefully articulated in the ICPD, the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda. And, because we must learn from our past to achieve a better world for all, universal access to reproductive health, which is so integral to women’s health and empowerment, to the health and education of their children, to the defeat of HIV and AIDS, and to the health and well-being of families and communities, must be at the heart of any post 2015 development framework. Only then can we eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable social, environmental and economic development.
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