Monday, September 19, 2016


The International Conference on Population and Development, which was held in 1994, represented a milestone for women’s rights. While the Conference was focused on population issues, the delegates meeting in Cairo agreed that population was not only about demographics but, more importantly, about people. The issues taken up in its Programme of Action5 are fundamentally related to women’s human rights, including gender equality, the family, reproductive health, birth control and family planning, women’s health, as well as immigration and education of women. Importantly, the Programme of Action is explicitly grounded in human rights and proclaims that “advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility, are cornerstones of population and development-related programmes.” The Conference was also important for its clear statement of reproductive rights, explaining that these “rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents.” 
The Programme of Action sets specific targets for: the provision of universal education; the reduction of infant, child and maternal mortality; and ensuring universal access to reproductive health care, including family planning, assisted childbirth and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, by 2015. Follow-up conferences have been organized to assess progress towards these goals, and inequality and lack of accountability constitute ongoing challenges to their achievement

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