Nairobi: Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto (centre) and two delegates hold hands during the closing ceremony of the conference on Thursday. At left is Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, while the other woman is Karen Elleman, a member of the Danish parliament.—AFP
Nairobi: Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto (centre) and two delegates hold hands during the closing ceremony of the conference on Thursday. At left is Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, while the other woman is Karen Elleman, a member of the Danish parliament.—AFP

THE Nairobi summit on 25th International Confer­ence on Population and Dev­e­lopment (ICPD) concluded on Thursday in the Kenyan capital, with partners making commitments to end all maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030.

Over 9,500 delegates from more than 170 countries took part in the inclusive event, which was a follow-up to the ICPD organised 25 years back in Cairo where 179 governments called for the empowerment of women and girls in all spheres of their lives, including in areas regarding sexual and reproductive health.

The Nairobi summit was co-convened by the governments of Kenya and Denmark with UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.

“There will be no ICPD50. Women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices,” said Ambassador Ib Petersen, Denmark’s Special Envoy for ICPD25.

“Looking towards 2030, we now enter a decade of delivery during which we will walk the talk and hold all of us to account for the commitments we made in Nairobi,” the envoy added.

Governments including Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, together with the European Commission, committed around $1 billion in support.

The private sector also stepped in and announced that they will mobilise some $8 billion in combined new pledges.

“The Nairobi Summit represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver. Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem at the closing ceremony.

Critical data

An important highlight of the event was the release of a new analysis done by UNFPA and the Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the Victoria University, the University of Washington and Avenir Health.

It shows that the price tag to achieve three world-transforming results in the next decade — ending preventable maternal deaths, eliminating gender-based violence and harmful practices, and meeting the family planning needs of women in high-priority countries — is $264 billion.

Currently, only $42 billion in development assistance is expected to be spent on advancing these goals. That means some $222 billion in investments is required over the next decade, whether in the form of foreign investment, domestic allocation or private spending.

“Without everyone pushing the oars together, the boat is not going to move far and if we are not in sync, we will simply turn in circles,” said Victoria Chou, a researcher with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Closing the substantial gap with investment of urgently needed resources will ultimately improve health among women and their families and that vision is what should motivate us looking forward after the Nairobi Summit.”

The summit brought delegates from across the world together on one platform to share and discuss important issues, which held back social and economic progress in many countries. They presented specific and concrete commitments to help the world reach these ambitious, but achievable, goals.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019