September 23, 2014
Yesterday, Monday September 22nd, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Special Session about ICPD beyond 2014 was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. And GOJoven was there!
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was first held in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt, with the participation of 179 governments that adopted the ICPD or “Cairo” Programme of Action (PoA). That was the first time that the right to sexual and reproductive health was formally recognized in an international agreement. Following periodic reviews and expansion of the commitments every five years, now, in 2014, the 20-year deadline for fulfilling those commitments, as established in the PoA, has come to an end.
Yesterday the UNGA met especially to review the fulfillment of the ICPD commitments and discuss how to continue advancing governments’ commitments to sexual and reproductive health for all beyond 2014. In addition to governments, session participants included many leaders from a wide diversity of civil society constituencies –including two GOJoven Fellows- who were advocating for the promotion and prioritization of their rights.
Prior preparatory processes in which civil society also participated included the First Regional Conference on Population and Development, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2013. The result was the Montevideo Consensus, in which governments from 38 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean ratified and expanded their commitments from Cairo and turned the region into a leader and driving force behind the push to expand sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in international agreements. GOJoven was well represented at that Conference by Wendy Aguilar of GOJoven Honduras, Ingrid Galvez and Wilson Campa of GOJoven Guatemala and Nancy Leiva of GOBelize.
Since negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda are currently underway, and will be defined by next year, this Special Session represented a unique opportunity to fight for the full incorporation of SRHR in the new Sustainable Development Objectives of the Post-2015 Agenda.
The participation of Ingrid Galvez, GOJoven Fellow in 2005 and current Member of the Board of Directors of GOJoven Guatemala, was the result of her ongoing participation in different ICPD-related spaces in Guatemala, Uruguay and the United States. The specific objective of GOJoven Guatemala’s contributions on this occasion was to serve as the reference organization that will follow up and monitor the fulfillment of the ICPD PoA in Guatemala on behalf of young people, since she was the country’s only civil society representative from the youth movement and from the SRHR movement that participated at UNGASS. Alongside other activists, Ingrid actively participated in the actions of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of Young People toward Cairo+20 and the Global Youth Caucus during UNGA. These groups aimed to link the commitments from prior consensuses, using the Montevideo Consensus as a model, and advance strategic working relations with the national delegations to increase the number of countries whose positions favor SRR. By invitation of the Alliance, Ingrid also participated in a meeting with Chiefs of State and UN entities such as UNFPA, where Ministers from different regions of the world spoke about what is being done in their countries to advance SRH. They recognized the indelible leadership of young people as necessary for translating the Post-2015 Agenda to action.
Stephen Daniel Diaz, GOJoven Fellow from Belize since 2013, has worked in SRH since 2006, playing an active role in defending the rights of people living with HIV and in prevention. He is now Director of a new NGO in his country: Belize Youth Empowerment for Change, which he created with his team of GOJoven Fellows in 2013 to work with the diversity of young people who suffer discrimination and marginalization. At UNGASS, Stephen acted in representation of young people in Belize, having taken a joint, open letter developed during the last young people’s meeting that was signed by GOBelize. In addition to strengthening partnerships with other civil society groups and allies, Stephen gave voice and continuity to the joint demands made in the young people’s letter.
More than 10 other GOJoven members have been actively participating in the ICPD+20 process in their countries and region during recent years, although not all of them were able to attend the Special Session in New York. One of them is Gabriela Flores, Executive Director of GOJoven Honduras. Gabriela was working to achieve the inclusion of civil society representatives in the official national delegation from her country, but the government did not accept the request. Nonetheless, Gabriela, together with other activists in Honduras, developed a joint civil society document showcasing their demands for ICPD+20 and advocated their government to adopt and support those demands. The document was given to the First Lady of Honduras prior to UNGASS, and reached other delegations and governments in New York by way of allies attending the meeting.
Two important reports by the UN Secretary General that framed yesterday’s discussions were: the Index Report “Recurrent themes and key elements identified during the sessions of the Commission on Population and Development” and the “Framework of Actions for the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the ICPD Beyond 2014“. Both reports reflect advances that should encourage governments to deepen their commitments to the struggle for human rights and equality, including access to SRH.
Following up on yesterday’s session, the GOJoven representatives will keep working in their countries and region to strengthen advocacy actions promoting SRR and build greater support for the commitments that governments discussed at UNGASS. More information will be coming soon about the results and impact of their participation and their joint efforts with other advocates in calling for the fulfillment and expansion of commitments to youth and adolescent SRHR beyond 2014.
Article by Susanna Moore, GOJoven Program Associate
GOJoven International is a program of the Public Health Institute.
For more information: https://gojoven.org/