This blog was originally published on Kumari: A Feminist, Shreejana Bhajracharya’s Personal Blog on Reproductive and Sexual Rights.
Being a SRHR youth advocate, I frequently come across an important event: ICPD, UN International Conference on Population and Development. ICPD was held in Cairo in 1994 which was a turning point in the way to approach population issues. ICPD is actual a new paradigm which marked and addressed human reproductive health and rights. Before ICPD, the conference only talked about population increment and its control but ICPD clearly focused on the needs of the individuals and on the empowerment of women, and the emergence of an evolving discourse about the connection between human rights with sexual and reproductive health rights, linking new conceptions of health to the struggle for social justice and respect for human dignity.
The Program of Action adopted by the ICPD established a firm link between population, development and human rights, health and gender equality and set an agenda that would:
• Respond to population dynamics within a human rights framework
• Advance gender equality and empowerment of women
• Promotes sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health
• Increase access to education, especially for girls
• Address issues of urbanization, migration and environment
• Ensure that everyone experiences the benefit of sustainable economic development, and
• Promote participation of civil society
Although ICPD talks in favor of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, there are still many loopholes to achieve the targets. Women were treated as object and as instrument before ICPD to implement population programs and policies. Then women’s reproductive capacity was transformed from an object of population control to a matter of women’s empowerment to exercise personal autonomy in relation to their sexual and reproductive health within social, economic and political contexts. Therefore ICPD remarkably announces women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are the human rights of women which should be included in population program to achieve sustainable development in the future.
The meeting was ten days long with different segments as follows:
- 12-13th September: Civil Society (CSO) Forum
- 14-15th September: Regoinal Youth meeting
- 16-20th September: 6th Asia and Pacific Population Conference
This is first time for me participating in high level discussion regarding SRHR and population. The review of ICPD in Asia Pacific kicked off with a civil society (CSO) forum; Advances, Challenges and Ways Forward: Asia Pacific CSO forum on ICPD beyond 2014, in advance Sixth Asia- Pacific Conference (APPC). It was the most memorable event in my life meeting more than 500 people. Among them are feminists, youth advocates, representative of different organizations, social workers, minsters from respective countries and delegations.
12-13th September: Civil Society (CSO) Forum
Thirteen organization from five regions participated in the CSO forum. This time there was 30% of youth participation among the 120 participants. The organizers expressed their observation that this is the first time in history where huge number of young people participated in such kind of forum. Hurray!! as we were able to keep our voice on importance of SRHR for young people.
There was active discussion about SRHR, education, comprehensive sexuality education, access to safe and legal abortion, poverty reduction and sustainable development, ageing and migration and disability. The participants are grouped according to the regions and have to map and prioritize issues, obstacles and challenges in policy making and other advocacy efforts and then all the participants have to discuss about developing the CSO statement and recommendations to Sixth Asia Pacific Population Conference.
14-15th September: Youth meeting
There were 50 young leaders from Asia and Pacific gathered in Bangkok on 14-15 September 2013, prior to the 6th Asia Pacific Population Conference, and formed the regional platform to ensuring that the rights of young people are met, respected and protected. The young people came up with recommendations for five thematic areas: Education, SRHR’s for adolescents and young people, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Abortion and Young people & Migration.
16-20th September: 6th APPC
After these 2 forums, the draft statement and recommendation is done to submit for 6th Asia and Pacific Population Conference which was held from 16-20 September, 2013. At the closing of the Conference on 20th September, ministers from 46 countries are expected to recommit to redouble their efforts to advance the population and development agenda in Asia and the pacific. The statement recommended by CSO forum and youth aims to put the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls and marginalized groups at the heart of future development goals.
My gratitude goes to Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) for recommending my name to International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to participate in a number of advocacy activities around the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) review meeting in Bangkok. I got wonderful chance to make new networks and share my experiences. I am looking forward to and determinate to make significant change for young people in near future.