30 Years of ICPD: Empowering Futures, Protecting Rights

30 Years of ICPD: Empowering Futures, Protecting Rights

By Kanga Rasi, Head of Region, Africa- Brave Movement

The 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD57) recently concluded, marking the thirtieth anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This milestone event provided a critical platform to assess progress, identify persistent challenges, and chart a future course to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) remain central to sustainable development efforts.

The Legacy of the ICPD: Progress and Persistent Challenges

Over the past three decades, the ICPD has significantly influenced global health and development policies, leading to notable improvements in maternal health, longevity, and overall well-being. However, as highlighted during CPD57, progress has been uneven and often fails to reach the most marginalized communities. Particularly concerning is the ongoing issue of sexual violence against children, both offline and online, a grave violation that demands urgent attention and action.

Integrating SRHR in Humanitarian Responses

As Diana Moreno emphasized at the conference, integrating SRHR into humanitarian responses is crucial, especially in times of crisis. The vulnerabilities of women and girls are exacerbated during such periods, making it imperative to ensure their protection and access to necessary health services. This integration is a moral obligation and a strategic necessity for building resilient communities.

Addressing Sexual Violence Against Children: A Survivor-Centric Approach

Sexual violence against children remains a distressing reality worldwide, necessitating a survivor-centric approach in both policy and practice. This violence occurs both offline and online, with the latter becoming increasingly prevalent in our digital age. It is vital to create safe spaces for survivors to share their experiences and receive comprehensive support, including medical care, psychological counselling, and legal assistance. Healing for survivors is crucial, requiring long-term, sensitive, and trauma-informed care to help them rebuild their lives. Preventive measures must be strengthened through education, community engagement, and robust legal frameworks to protect children from abuse in all its forms.

Looking Ahead: The Summit of the Future

The upcoming Summit of the Future in September 2024 offers a unique opportunity to build on the discussions at CPD57 and further advance the ICPD agenda. This summit aims to enhance global cooperation on critical challenges, reaffirm existing commitments, and address gaps in global governance. It is an ideal platform to reinforce the importance of SRHR and the protection of children from sexual violence within the broader context of sustainable development.

Linking ICPD30 to the Summit of the Future

The momentum generated by the thirtieth anniversary of the ICPD must carry forward to the Summit of the Future. By aligning the objectives of CPD57 with the summit’s goals, we can ensure a cohesive approach to tackling current and emerging challenges. The Pact for the Future, the outcome document of the summit, should incorporate concrete measures to advance SRHR, protect children from violence, and promote gender equality.

Reaffirming Our Commitments

The declaration adopted at CPD57 reaffirms the commitments made at the ICPD and emphasizes the need for renewed political will, increased investment, and enhanced international cooperation. As we prepare for the Summit of the Future, it is essential to translate these commitments into actionable strategies that address the root causes of inequality and discrimination.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

The anniversary of the ICPD is not just a moment for reflection but a call to action. As Oluwatoyin I. M. Chukwudozie aptly stated, “When women lead, they transform lives.” It is incumbent upon all stakeholders—governments, international organizations, civil society, and individuals—to work collaboratively towards a future where SRHR are universally upheld, and every child is protected from violence and exploitation.

Addressing sexual violence against children, both offline and online, is a critical part of this effort. Ensuring that survivors receive the healing and support they need is paramount. As we move towards the Summit of the Future, let us harness this opportunity to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world. The path ahead is challenging, but with collective effort and unwavering commitment, we can achieve the vision set forth at the ICPD thirty years ago and build a better future for generations to come.

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