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Population Institute Attends U.N. Population Conference in Ethiopia

November 02, 2009

The Population Institute sent a small delegation this past week to observe the U.N.'s International Parliamentarians' Conference on population.  Held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on October 27 and 28, the conference offered a mixed review of the progress that has been made to date in fulfilling the 20-year plan of action that was developed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

Bob Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, in commenting on the conference noted that, "There is a growing understanding of the importance of providing universal access to family planning and other reproductive health services.  But awareness is no substitute for action. With only five years remaining on the 20-year Programme of Action, it's all too clear that the world is falling short of the hopes that were raised by the 1994 Cairo agreement.  There's a lot of work that remains to be done."

In opening the conference, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said "We are here to ensure that greater progress is made to advance human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, and to hold governments accountable."

The Addis Ababa conference, which attracted more than 400 delegates from 115 nations, produced a renewed call for action on family planning and reproductive health. 

The parliamentarians approved a statement, which said, in part, that, "We must act with a sense of urgency. Time is short.  Access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and family planning for all women is a top priority.  Investing in the health and rights of women and girls is smart economics for families, communities and nations."

The Population Institute urged the delegates to push their respective governments to fulfill the pledges that were made at the 1994 Cairo Conference.  Walker said, "Rhetoric is no substitute for action. If the Cairo goals are to be met, donor nations must dramatically boost their support for family planning and reproductive health services."

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