ICPD 25 is a high-level conference that was held in Nairobi from 12th-14th November, 2019. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, where 179 governments adopted a landmark Programme of Action which set out to empower women and girls for their sake, and for the benefit of their families, communities and nations.
The Nairobi Summit with the theme ‘Accelerating the Promise’ brought together heads of state and government, royalties, NGOs, CSOs and youth organizations, indigenous people, young leaders and people living with disabilities to make commitments and fulfill the unfinished business of Cairo.
Pema Choden, a second year BA Anthropology student from Royal Thimphu College was among the young leaders who attended the conference. Pema said, “ICPD25 allowed me to realize that Bhutan made an incredible gain in providing free health services and education to its people. However, there is still a high unemployment rate among youth, no safe space for young girls and women and no active coverage on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in education curriculum despite youth organization like Y- Peer sensitizing on SRHR.” Pema is also the Y-Peer Focal person at RTC, a youth-led initiative that focuses on educating and advocating youth on adolescent reproductive and sexual health. Pema pledges, ”I march for a safe space for all girls, women and young people, zero physical harassment and rape and talking about SRHR in families. I march for gender equality, young people as decision makers, for women to decide when to marry, when to have a child and when to have sex. I march to eliminate any harmful practices to all girls, women and children.”
ICPD25 brought together 9,500 delegates from about 173 countries to make a commitment to address the 3 Zeros; Zero preventable mortality, zero unmet need for contraceptives and family planning and zero sexual and gender based violence. Her Excellency, Lyoenpo Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health communicated Bhutan’s pledge to fulfill and implement the commitments of ICPD25 and the 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals. Some of these goals are to ensure safe motherhood and sexual reproductive health rights for all women and girls, develop target policy to accelerate mother and child health care, optimal utilization of health services, reduce maternal mortality and cervical cancer, provide access to information and services related to adolescent reproductive health and rights through comprehensive sexuality education in schools and institutions and develop programs for youths.
“I would like to especially thank the government of Kenya, Denmark and UNFPA for co-convening the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to UNFPA Bhutan, Y- Peer Bhutan, DYS, Changjiji Youth Center and Royal Thimphu College for supporting me and giving me this wonderful opportunity. Through ICPD25, I got an opportunity to attend the memorial service of our Late Third Druk Gyalpo at the place where he passed away.” Pema encourages everyone to be an agent of change, especially men who can play a greater role to achieve gender equality. “Let us work together to accelerate the promises and create a safe future for generations to come.”
-Pema Choden, BA in Anthropology.