THE CAIRO CONSENSUS
The Programme Of Action
"When we adopt the Program of Action....We promise to make men and women equal before the law, but also to rectify disparities, and to promote women's needs more actively than men's until we can safely say that equality has been reached."
GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND, PRIME MINISTER OF NORWAY
Opening Statement to the ICPD
"These are the battles that we must fight, not only as a nation but as a global community. These are the battles on which history-and our people-will judge us. These are the battles to which the mosque and the church must contribute, along with Governments and non-governmental organizations and families."
BENAZIR BHUTTO, PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
Opening Statement to the ICPD
On September 13, 1994, in Cairo, at the conclusion of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), 184 governments reached an unprecedented consensus on a new 20-year Program of Action to achieve a balance between the world's people and its resources. This remarkable plan broadens our understanding of "population" by integrating population-related and development policies. This transformation in the meaning of "population" was due in large part to the significant influence exerted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially women's groups from all over the world, in preparations for ICPD, in drafting the Program of Action, and at ICPD itself.
Previous international agreements on population set demographic targets for limiting the world's population, and focused on contraceptive services as the central means to achieve them. In stark contrast, in Cairo, the international community recognized the interrelationships between consumption and production patterns, economic development, population growth and structure, and environmental degradation. Governments, through the Program of Action, endorsed a wide range of policies and programs to address these complex relationships and to ensure health, empowerment, and rights for all fundamental elements of sustainable development around the world.
The Program of Action calls for reforms in the global economy to place greater emphasis on social development and to support the most vulnerable members of society, including the poor, and especially women, who represent the majority of the world's poor. For the first time, the reproductive and sexual health and reproductive rights of women are central to an international agreement on population.
"Compared with any earlier document on population and development, this Program of Action is detailed in its analysis; specific in its objectives; precise in its recommendations and transparent in its methodology. In our field, it represents a quantum leap to a higher state of energy."
DR. NAFIS SADIK, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ICPD Closing Statement to the ICPD
The ICPD Program of Action:
- recognizes the detrimental impact of consumption and production patterns on the world's resources and the global environment, as well as the impact of population growth;
- integrates population-related policies into development policies designed to eradicate poverty, achieve equity, respect human rights, and protect the environment;
- applies basic human rights principles explicitly to population policies and programs; rejects coercion (including incentives or disincentives), violence, and discrimination; and re-asserts that all people have the right to good quality health care;
- details actions required to ensure women's empowerment in the political, social, economic, and cultural lives of their communities, not simply improvements in their status and roles;
- recognizes the central role of sexuality and gender relations in women's health and rights;
- asserts that men should take responsibility for their own sexual behavior, their fertility, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and the welfare of their partners and the children they father;
- calls for, and defines, reproductive and sexual health care that provides good quality, comprehensive information and services for all, including adolescents;
- recognizes unsafe abortion as a major public health issue and urges governments to reduce the incidence of unsafe abortion, ensure that services are safe when they are not against the law, offer reliable and compassionate counseling for all women who have unwanted pregnancies, and provide humane care for all women who suffer the consequences of unsafe abortion.
Among its accomplishments, the Program of Action calls for:
- significant changes in how most governments, donors, and international agencies make policy decisions and implement programs; the bases on which policy decisions are made; and how program personnel are supervised and rewarded;
- recognition of the important roles, rights, and responsibilities of NGOs-particularly women's groups-in designing and implementing population-related development policies and programs;
- substantial budget reallocations to increase investment in "human development" by national governments and bilateral and multilateral donors;
- measures to lessen the negative impacts on social services and human well-being of economic policies, such as structural adjustment programs and debt repayment schedules.
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