Sunday, November 9

3 Global Events that offer hope for better future: The ICPDbeyond2014, Post2015 and Beijing+20

The year 2014 & 2015 is a defining moment for lasting change across the globe, and particularly for young people and women.

In 1995, the fourth conference on women took place in Beijing which led to the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,  a global commitment to achieving equality, development and empowerment for women. The document was signed by 189 governments. It is estimated that over 30 000 participants from all walks of life, including activists, civil society members, public and private stakeholders attended the conference.

Like the Beijing, the ICPD PoA was also another landmark moment in development history and as well as on the promotion of women’s reproductive health and rights.  Though the ICPD was held a year earlier, in 1994 in Cairo.  179 countries signed a forward-looking, 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) to promote development and improve human lives. 

Five years after Beijing,  the MDGs (soon be SDGs) was born with the aim to completely eradicate by the year 2015, extreme poverty and foster human development. Both agenda (ICPD PoA, Beijing & MDGs) outlined great strategies and approaches towards achieving sustainable development; providing unique opportunities to accelerate and advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In overall, reports have suggested that there have been some significant strides towards the realisation of some of these goals - and in Africa, countries like Kenya, Rwanda have shown significant progress towards reducing maternal mortality and promoting equality between men and women. Even at that much is yet to be realised. Findings show that youth and young women are still disproportionately affected and are constantly faced with systemic and / or structural forms of discrimination and violence.

For example, in most parts of the world, Cameroon in particular, young people continue to lack decent jobs and are unable to access quality health care services and information. Violence against women and girls is still prevalent across all sectors, with research suggesting that 1 in 3 women have experienced at least one form of violence. And in Cameroon at least 60% of women  have experienced violence before the age of 15.

Though some of these statistics aren't encouraging and hopeful the least. However, what I know for sure is these statistics can drop - to zero. These statistics can drop given that government officials and leaders keep to the commitments and promises in these declarations.  And the year 2014-2015, gives every country that opportunity to critical review its level of commitment and progress; failure and challenges in the implementation of these agenda. And as world leaders review their implementation and renegotiate their commitments, I am hopeful for better good outcomes.

In cumulation, seeing the participation and presence of young people and girls at some of these spaces offer  more hope for better future. For I know that their voices and contributions will help shape the next development agenda, as well as in developing a more inclusive agenda.

There is no doubt the last decades has taught us all great lessons, the greatest of all being - the benefits of inclusiveness. And as the slogan goes: “Nothing about us without us”.  In order words, it is clear that we can't achieved sustainable development, if the people aren't part of the discussion and / or taking key role in the discussion: a notion that has been clearly posited throughout the review processes in the ICPD, Beijing+20 and MDGs. With that I am hopeful for a better future!