ICPD Beyond 2014 Declaration Affirms Africa’s Commitments to Sexual and Reproductive Health and RightsOctober 10, 2013 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Following a week of intense negotiations, the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development in Africa beyond 2014 was adopted on Friday, October 4, at the conclusion of the Ministerial Segment of the African Regional Conference on Population and Development.

The declaration contains strong commitments by African States on sexual and reproductive health and rights. It calls for universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, with particular attention to the needs of adolescents, as well as emergency contraception, comprehensive sexuality education and critical services for survivors of violence against women and girls. It does not, however, call explicitly for the elimination of discrimination and violence in Africa based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Task Force press conference, during the Ministerial segment, served as the regional launch of its Policy Recommendations for the ICPD Beyond 2014. Task Force Co-Chair President Joaquim Chissano and members Bience Gawanas and Holo Hachonda presented the proposals to 26 journalists from African national, regional and continent-wide outlets and CCTV of China (see video news segment above), who generated articles for English, French and Portuguese news outlets.

After citing grim statistics on maternal deaths, early marriage and adolescent pregnancy, HIV and sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa, President Chissano said that these are “preventable problems with proven, cost-effective solutions. Solving them is a matter of political will, backed up by resources to ensure our promises can be fulfilled.”

In addition to being the right thing to do, fulfilling commitments to universal access to sexual and reproductive health would be cost-effective, as Ms. Gawanas argued: “Fulfilling these commitments would not only save lives, it would save money.” As an example, she cited research showing that increased investments in family planning would save developing countries $5.7 billion dollars in maternal and newborn healthcare costs alone.

At the press conference, the Task Force condemned the violence and discrimination endured by women and men in Africa based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. “Discrimination is discrimination,” said Mr. Hachonda, “whether it’s based on gender, race, ethnicity, the country we come from, the faith we practice -or whether it’s based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Societies that exclude and harm people based on any single aspect of their identity are on a dangerous path of social exclusion, undermining fundamental human rights and human dignity.”

President Chissano also chaired a session on ‘Review of Progress towards the ICPD Programme of Action and the Agenda Beyond 2014’ during the Ministerial segment of the conference on Thursday, October 3, where he delivered his remarks focused on the Task Force’s policy positions.

Prior to the main negotiations, Mr. Hachonda worked with youth advocates during the pre-conference Youth Forum and spoke on behalf of the Task Force about the need for young people to push their leaders on fulfilling human rights obligations. These include the right of young people to make decisions about their own health, sexuality, bodies and relationships– without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence.

Press Release

Speeches and Remarks

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