African countries reaffirm commitment to addressing population concerns – UN
Representatives from African countries today reaffirmed their commitment to a global consensus on population and development forged a decade ago which favours empowering people over demographic targets, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported. The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo, marked a significant shift from focusing on numbers to addressing underlying concerns such as women’s health and access to reproductive care services. At their ministerial meeting in Dakar, Senegal, which wrapped up today, African nations adopted a declaration vowing to “exert maximum efforts” to build on the progress achieved in the last 10 years and to address poverty eradication, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, maternal death and the empowerment of women. “The price of inaction – roughly 2.4 million maternal deaths, 7.5 million child deaths and 49 million maternal injuries in the next 10 years – is too high to contemplate,” warned UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a message read out by his Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. UNFPA chief Thoraya Ahmed Obaid urged open discussions on HIV/AIDS and called for better reproductive health care in Africa. In addition, she urged attention to the broader need for gender equality. “As long as girls are being married off at young ages and cannot refuse, we must continue to work for human rights for all,” she said. “When women have equal opportunity and equality before the law, the benefits go to everyone,” she said.