In a significant high-level global gender and rights commitment, Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) Toyin Saraki has accepted the official invitation of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the United Nations’ foremost sexual and reproductive health rights agency, to join the International Steering Committee of the International Conference on Population and Development, taking place in Nairobi in November 2019.
Convened by the Governments of Kenya and Denmark, and the UNFPA, the ICPD25 Summit in Nairobi from 12–14 November 2019 will bring together heads of state and ministers, parliamentarians, thought-leaders, technical experts, civil society organizations, young people and people with disabilities, business and community leaders, faith-based organizations, international financial institutions, academics and thousands of others interested in the pursuit of reproductive health and rights, in order to mobilize the political will and financial commitments needed to deliver on the commitments made by 179 governments in Cairo in 1994 at the landmark International Conference on Population and Development, the ICPD.
Mrs Saraki joins the ICPD International Steering Committee with a focus on mobilising global and country commitments around five themes:Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage, financing required to finish the ICPD Programme of Action and to sustain the gains made, drawing on demographic trends to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development, ending gender-based violence and harmful practices
as well as upholding the right to sexual and reproductive health care even in humanitarian and fragile contexts
Having commenced her new high-level global commitment during multi-lateral meetings at Women Deliver in Vancouver last week, Mrs Saraki commented:
“We stand on a gender precipice, from which we must urgently act to transform the lives of women and children. Together with my fellow members of the ICPD International Steering Committee, I envisage a world where every individual and couple, everywhere, can decide freely when to have children, and has the information, education and means to do so. A world where no woman or girl dies from preventable complications in pregnancy or childbirth: where no woman has to give birth without the help of a midwife, nurse or doctor. We must forge a world where no one is subjected to violence because of their gender, where no girl is forced to marry, where no girl or woman is subjected to female genital mutilation or other harmful practices.”
“We are far from the world envisaged by the conference in Cairo 25 years ago. 830 women die every day while giving life, mostly from preventable causes. 33,000 girls are forced into child marriage and 11,000 girls face genital mutilation every day. 5 million pregnant women have been displaced by conflict or disaster and are in need of medical care. They all deserve a better world, across the life-course, from birth to age”
“I am therefore delighted to serve as a member of this important global committee, bringing Africa’s voice to the fore. I look forward to deepening Nigeria’s pivotal national consultations on gender, population and development, in conjunction with the UNFPA Nigeria country office, alongside the International Steering Committee’s global terms of reference.”
Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director, commented: “As we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in advancing the health and rights of women, we must redouble our efforts to reach those who have not yet benefited from the promise of the ICPD. The Nairobi Summit will help us rally a broad coalition of stakeholders to protect the gains made and advance the ICPD agenda to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Mrs Saraki has also served as a pioneer member of the United Nations African Women’s Leadership Network since 2017, and is a contributor to the 2019 UK-France Governments’ International Consultative Dialogue for Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI). Mrs Saraki is the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives and a Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa.
The UNFPA as core advocacy partner, seeks to catalyse and accelerate progress towards ‘the Three Zeros’ – three strategic results that it will work to achieve by 2030: zero unmet need for family planning; zero maternal deaths; and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including child marriage and female genital mutilation.