Delivered by Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, Africa NGO Delegate
It is an exciting time as the world looks forward to meeting in my country Kenya, and in my home of Nairobi for ICPD+25. In 1994, I was the same age as my three-year old daughter when the governments signed the ICPD Programme of Action. This agreement placed human rights at the centre of sustainable development, and recognised reproductive rights as human rights and also addresses structural issues related to HIV responses.
We know that when people, especially young people, are empowered to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health– free of force, coercion, and fear – the whole world prospers. I say, when women and girls have the agency, information, and access to make their own choices, especially on reproduction, the whole world prospers.
We want you to know that youth-led and youth-serving organizations from around the world, are committed to supporting UNFPA to make sure that young people are meaningfully engaged before, in, and after the Nairobi summit. We look forward to more clarification on the financial and administrative support for youth to do so.
Speaking of the sexual rights and reproductive rights of women and girls in our diversity, we recently had the results of the ECHO trial, which bring to light the magnitude of HIV risk for women and girls in Africa. These results remind us we are still far from realizing the ambitions and vision of the first ICPD. Young women in the trial still acquired HIV at unacceptably high rates despite getting the best HIV prevention package on offer and being enrolled in the trial because they were seeking contraception, not because of their HIV risk profile.
I welcome the research as the trial DID demonstrate that a diversity of contraceptive methods are possible however the same contraceptive methods my mother had could be the same choices (or lack of choices) her granddaughter has when she becomes of age. If that does not make you sad, it terrifies me to imagine she will not appreciate being a woman fully because of the constant sad experiences she will have to battle with as I have to. Why do we still have contraceptives methods that I can count on one hand so many years later? Why do I still have to be denied Dolutegravir, the best ARV in Africa now because of my reproductive potential when access to contraceptives is still a challenge and choice is only when you can afford it?
It’s time to deliver on the promise of ICPD as we have had a generation of girls growing up like me and we don’t see the changes that we need for ourselves or our daughters to fully embrace and enjoy our sexual and reproductive health and rights. And it’s time that we open the doors of this promise of sexual and reproductive health and rights to everyone. Signing on to an agreement is one thing, making it work is what carries the day and makes sure change happens.
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting