WINDHOEK, MAY 23 – Hard won gains made under the Promise of Cairo in 1994 remain under threat but United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) remains optimistic and resilient in the battle to ensure Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR.)
UNFPA Country Representative to Namibia, Dennia Gayle made those comments on Wednesday night, to begin a series of high level commemoration events to mark the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development – ICPD 25 and the 50th anniversary as the UNFPA.
She pointed out however, that twenty five years had passed since its declaration, the Promise of Cairo remained as relevant as it was in 1994, although not yet fully met.
“The hard won gains remain under threat in a world stricken by multi-dimensional forms of inequality, persistent discrimination, political turbulence,” adding that rising conservatism, resource constraints from economic tailwinds, were also some of the threats.
Gayle said while it felt like taking two steps forward and get pulled one step back at times, “we are optimists and we are resilient.”
The UNFPAs current strategic plan is aligned with Agenda 2030 and has set three targets with the aim of transforming the lives of women, young people and adolescent girls and ensure they are not left behind.
“The first is to end unmet need for family planning; the second is to end preventable maternal deaths; and the third is to end gender-based violence and harmful practices,” she said.
More relevant to Namibia – a country that is in the Eastern and Southern Africa region that remains the epicentre of the AIDS pandemic – the UNFPA has added a fourth target: to end the sexual transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), for which around four out of five new infections occur through sex.
“From our side, UNFPA remains committed and fired up. We will mobilize every dollar, galvanize every ally, forge new alliances and partnerships, insist on every action, identify and search for new and innovative solutions, reach to the very last mile, and secure a new set of ambitious commitments essential to accelerate rights and choices for all.”
Monica Geingos, the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia said it was important to put youth at the forefront of development, stressing that ensuring access to SRHR information to anyone who can impregnate and get pregnant was of utmost importance.
“We often ignore men and boys in this conversation. A woman can have sex with 10 men in a month and get pregnant only once; but a man can have sex with 10 girls in a month and get all of them pregnant. We do not have the luxury for us not to have this conversation,” said Geingos.
She further noted that in 2016, Namibia recorded over 7 000 cases of illegal “backyard abortions,” while the country had managed to reduce mother-to-child transmission by 4 per cent in the same year, which had improved to 2 per cent in the current year. – firstname.lastname@example.org