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ICPD25 + 2 months

It’s been nearly two months since the International Conference on Population and Development in Nairobi – commemorating 25 years since the landmark event in Cairo in 1994.

25 years ago, the Cairo conference was our watershed moment. It was an unprecedented way to view reproductive health and rights. Feminists worldwide gathered and pushed for a paradigm shift focusing on women as the cornerstone of international development. And if women were to be the barometer by which development was measured, then comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, including abortion access, was a critical measure of that success. It is beyond dispute that providing the full spectrum of these rights to women also results in healthier and stronger families, communities, and countries.

Yes, there have been improvements – but not nearly enough. Maternal mortality has decreased around the world, and access to contraception has increased. But there are still 214 million women around the world who don’t have the access they need. One third of women around the world still experience some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime. At this rate, we are far from equality.

When it comes to family planning, it seems that we’re going backwards. Conservative movements, patriarchal policies, and misogynist leadership have all resulted in a backlash against women’s rights and fundamental freedoms. Trump’s expanded global gag rule is just one example of many. Women’s lives are at stake, and more women are dying as a result of these regressive policies.

And then we all convened in Nairobi, to seemingly celebrate achievements. In the opening plenary in the company of Melinda Gates and other experts and advocates, I argued that there is no need for another women’s rights conference because women are dying while we are still talking.

In the Quartz article The Case Against Holding Any More Women’s Rights Conferences, I stated that “Where we are now I find unacceptable. We need to push back more angrily.”

Clearly, something isn’t working. “I wonder: how many more events do we need to have? How many times do we need to get together and talk about girls and women’s rights, when we actually just need to deliver on it?” I asked. “It’s 25 years from Cairo and here we are talking about unfulfilled promises; unfulfilled promises are broken promises. We are letting down millions of women and girls around the world.”

We know our cause is right – we’ve established that much already. What we need now is to focus on how we’re going to deliver on it. I said: “We need to discuss how, not if or when—when is now, when was 25 years ago”.

I ended by saying that I hope this is the last time we all meet to talk about women’s rights – although we know this won’t be the case. 2020 is filled with events – from the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference to the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. But I don’t want to keep talking. And I don’t want to be celebrating anniversaries of events until we really have something to celebrate.

#Activism #UN #Women #UNFPA #SRHR #ICPD #Feminism #Violence #development #WomensRights #ViolenceAgainstWomen #Sexuality

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