Over 200 law makers, cabinet ministers, UN experts, representatives of national, regional and international organisations and civil society leaders from all over the world have concluded the 7th International Parliamentarians Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (IPCI.ICPD) in Ottawa, Canada, with a renewed commitment to collaborate in promoting and taking action on sexual reproductive and human rights (SRHR) of women and girls.
The two day forum in the Canadian capital, held on the 22 – 23 October, 2018, was organised by the UNFPA, in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians for Population and Development (CAPPD), Inter- American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (IAPG), European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) and with support from regional parliamentary groups from Africa, the Arab world and Asia, and support from the Canadian parliament and government. The conference set out to achieve three objectives namely, a) keeping the ICPD issues alive and within mainstream parliamentary discourse across the world, b) taking stock of the progress of the ICPD Programme implementation; and c) strategically positioning population dynamics in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
the gathering at the opening ceremony, HE Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development of Canada, deputising the Prime Minister, said her country hosted the first ICPD conference in 2002 and that it is an honour for them to once again bring together Parliamentarians and other stakeholders to discuss pivotal issues facing the health and rights of women and girls around the world. She stressed Canada’s commitment to mobilising global support for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls which, she added, is a key commitment of Feminist International Assistance Policy.
In some of his interventions, Hon. Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member of Banjul North and Chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees, who represented The Gambia at the conference, implored his parliamentary colleagues to rise up to the challenge and address the pressing issues affecting women and girls. “As Parliamentarians, it is our duty to muster the courage and demonstrate the political will to promote and defend the rights women and girls even if it means committing political suicide,” said the Banjul North NAM. Hon. Sillah underscored the importance of such international conferences which, he added, provide the platform to articulate common issues and build strong partnerships to address common concerns.
“We need to continue working and collaborating with our partners to address issues of common concern. However, since overt dependence on donor funding for the most basic of needs of our populations is not sustainable, it is important for us parliamentarians to ensure that our governments start committing our national resources to address these needs,” he said. Many issues were discussed including Sexual and Reproductive Health, Family Planning, Gender Equality, Adolescent and Youth, Maternal Health, Midwifery, Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage, Adolescent Pregnancy and World Population. The conference ended with the adoption of the Ottawa Statement of Commitment to the implementation of ICPD on the Road to 2030.