Global women’s rights meet urges action
Nurul Islam Hasib from Kuala Lumpur,
Published: 2013-05-30 11:55:02.0 BdST Updated: 2013-05-30 11:56:34.0 BdST
Women Deliver, global conference, ended on Thursday urging participants to swing into action once back home.
In her brief concluding remarks, conference president Jill Sheffield said the meet, largest in a decade, drew more than 4,500 participants from at least 150 countries.
“We came together and heard so many voices that we never heard before. We recognised that each one of us has a voice,” she said, adding that over 700 people had presented papers on various issues at the three-day gathering.
She said the conference had made it clear that ‘investing in girls is a big win for everybody’.
She extolled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who in his inaugural speech stressed that ‘family planning is a right’.
“When a PM highlights this then we know we are making success,” she said.
The conference was held at a time when talks were on for setting the post-2015 agenda.
The UN secretary-general is scheduled to receive recommendations of his appointed high-level panel on Thursday evening in New York.
Particular emphasis had been laid on the post-2015 development agenda, as participants in more than 100 sessions called for action to ensure that girls and women were given priority in the run-up to the 2015 MDGs and beyond.
The World Bank in a report released on the first day of the conference said investing in girls would be a smart choice that could increase labour productivity, bringing financial benefits to households and future generations.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Helen Clark urged countries on the concluding day to maintain a ‘high level’ campaign for girls’ and women’s basic sexual and reproductive health rights for another two years so that they got priority in the post-2015 development goals.
“This (the holding of the conference) is the right timing,” former President of Finland Tarja Halonen told bdnews24.com. “The conference gives us a window of opportunity that we have to use,” she added.
Halonen was the co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, seen as ‘a milestone’ on population discourse as it recognised the development of ‘a woman-centred human rights approach to population’.
She said this conference had been ‘the first step’ of the next post-2015 development goals where, she believed, girls’ and women’s health, and rights issues would find place for sustainable development.
“The conference gave us the message that we have to continue and strengthen our work in order to empower our girls and women concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights”.
In the conference the UNFPA executive director Dr Babatunde Osotimehi urged countries to make ‘bold and decisive’ commitments to keep women, girls and young people at the heart of any development agenda to ensure its success.
With the conference being held just a year after the London Summit where donors pledged to inject $2.6 billion to provide family planning services by 2020 to more than 200 million women who do not have access to it as yet, a key donor, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called upon countries to form “a partnership with women whose voices have fallen on deaf ears for far too long”.
Its co-chair Melinda Gates said these funds were ‘critical’ because “they will help countries implement ambitious national plans”.
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