ICPD human rights conference opens with strong calls for equality for every person

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Dr. Osotimehin speaks at the opening of the ICPD Conference on Human Rights. Photo: Marcel Vogel

In many places, women continue to be seen as second-class citizens. And girls' potential continues to be squandered, despite the links between their education and economic growth.

That's what the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin told the opening session of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) International Conference on Human Rights in the Netherlands. He said "These are not just human rights issues, they are also important development issues".

Dr. Osotimehin recounted some of the gains made since the 1994 Cairo Conference: maternal death has nearly halved, access to family planning has increased in many countries and the ability to decide on the number and spacing of children are recognized as human rights. There has also been a remarkable increase in women's participation in political, economic and cultural life, as well as a growing number of national institutions to address gender equality and women's empowerment, he added. “Where treatment is accessible, HIV has changed from a death sentence to a chronic, manageable disease,” he said, adding that about 9.7 million people accessed treatment last year.

The Executive Director spoke of the many of the challenges that remain. He said more than 60 countries still criminalize the transmission of HIV, access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights is still far from universal, and some 222 million women in developing countries lack access to modern family planning.

According to Dr. Osotimehin, "The ICPD Beyond 2014 review is not about celebrating history, it's about making it". He said "It's about translating the lessons we have learned over the past 19 years into a roadmap for the future, and developing a credible framework for tracking future progress. He added "This is essential not only for advancing the ICPD agenda, but also ensuring that the post-2015 agenda and the new international development framework speak to the needs and aspirations of people around the world".

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’54″

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