President Kenyatta’s speech at the ICPD25 in Nairobi
Strength of a womanAnd because our women are the gatekeepers to family health, they exert such a powerful influence on intergenerational outcomes for their children, empowering women essentially empowers all our families, empowers our societies, empowers our nations and it empowers the world. This was on of the essence of the first International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), that was held in Cairo in 1994. The Conference highlighted the linkages between population, poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Mortal threatsThe world faces increased health threats including threats from reproductive cancers such as breast, cervical and prostate cancer. And there are also growing environmental pressures including the urgent threat of climate change. This has made the Cairo commitments more urgent and more complex. To complete the unfinished agenda therefore arequires us to develop new partnerships, mobilize political support, increase the level of international and domestic financing; and accelerate implementation of innovative and supportive interventions. Fortunately, there is a greater international commitment and cooperation to address these issues. The Sustainable Development Goals have provided a comprehensive international platform to systematically advance the Cairo Agenda. We also have more scientific and research evidence on what works and better technologies, to guide and support policy. What then should we commit to as we go forward? I believe the packaging of priority actions will differ from country to country, depending on their development priorities. However, at a minimum, we should all commit to: - Increase access to secondary and tertiary education for boys and girls. This is the currency of the 21st century and yet secondary education remains low in some parts of the world while enrolment in tertiary education is less than 20 per cent in many lower-middle income countries, - Accelerate the reduction in maternal deaths. Progress has been much slower than projected in 1994. The death of a mother during pregnancy or while giving birth, significantly reduces the chances of her children to survive and thrive. And yet, as we are demonstrating through Kenya’s First Lady’s “Beyond Zero” programme, most maternal deaths can be prevented with proper antenatal care, skilled delivery at birth and access to emergency obstetric care.
Eliminate FGM- Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which remains one of the most serious violations of human rights of women and girls. I would like to restate my personal commitment and that of the Government of Kenya to providing the leadership necessary to ensure that this practice ends within this generation. In April this year we signed a landmark declaration between the governments of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia to address cross border FGM practice. And last week, we signed an agreement with religious and cultural elders to eliminate FGM by 2022. - Eliminate violence against women and girls. A woman has a 1-in-3 chance of experiencing physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. This is a major gap in our development record as a global community. Since 1994 Kenya has enacted laws that focus on the eradication of Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices, which include the Prevention against Domestic Violence Act 2015. - I believe we can all commit to eliminate Child Marriages. The percentage of young women between 20 and 24 years of age who were married before their 18th birthday has declined from 34 per cent in 1994 to 25 per cent in 2019, but the absolute number of girls under 18 who are at risk of child marriage, is estimated at 10.3 million in 2019. In Kenya 23 per cent of girls are married before their 18thbirthday. Early marriage denies our girls a chance to achieve their full potential in education and limits their socioeconomic contributions. - I also believe that we can commit to accelerate women’s equal participation and equitable representation at all levels of the political, public and corporate sphere. Global analyses suggest that advances in women’s equality in the workplace would add an additional $1.2 trillion to global growth by 2025. - Strengthen Partnerships: The successes we celebrate today have been achieved through efforts and coalitions by governments, development partners, civil society organisations, private sector leaders, religious communities, women and youth organizations. We need to sustain and expand these partnerships. We need to accelerate the promise of Cairo in order to build sustainable, vibrant and inclusive societies. But if we fail to deliver on the Cairo promise, we risk consigning our children to a less secure future than we inherited.
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