The global goal of a sustainable future for all cannot be achieved until women, girls and young people gain control over their own bodies and lives, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told world leaders meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday.
The Kenyan capital is hosting a three-day summit to mark 25 years since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
The conference, held in Cairo, produced a Programme of Action which recognized that reproductive health, women's empowerment and gender equality are critical to sustainable development.
Ms. Mohammed said it must be carried forward: “Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and upholding women’s rights is a game changer - for poverty-reduction, inclusive growth, democratic governance, peace and justice,” she said.
“The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved until women, girls and young people are able to control their bodies and their lives, and live free of violence. The power to choose the number, timing and spacing of children is a human right that can bolster economic and social development.”
SDGs deadline approaching
For Ms. Mohammed, the Nairobi Summit is also an opportunity to mobilize political and financial momentum towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015.
“We must continue to work even harder towards preventable maternal and child mortality, achieving the unmet need for family planning, and eliminating violence and harmful practices against women and girls everywhere, not least in humanitarian and fragile settings,” the UN deputy chief told the gathering.
As too many are still being left behind, Ms. Mohammed called for action.
“Hundreds of millions of women and girls are still waiting for the promise to be kept. They have been waiting long enough,” she said.
“It’s time for urgent and transformative change as we enter the decade of action to 2030.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ICPD, the UN committed on Tuesday to:
- Uphold the human rights of all people, including their right to sexual and reproductive health.
- Intensify system-wide efforts to eliminate all preventable maternal and child mortality, to eradicate gender-based violence against women, girls and youth, and to eliminate the unmet need for family planning that constrains the rights and wellbeing of millions of women and young people,
- Support investments in adolescents and youth that uphold their rights,
- Support governments in the full and accelerated implementation of the ICPD agenda, in line with implementation of the SDGs,
- Ensure that no one is left behind, and that we reach the furthest behind first,
- Incorporate the outcomes of the Nairobi Summit as an integral component in the Decade of Action to deliver on the SDGs.