Africa: Global Conference Closes With Call for Family Planning to Be At Center of Development Agenda
Addis Ababa — The third International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2013) closed today with a Call to Action by civil society leaders for governments to prioritize family planning in the new global development framework that replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.
The Call to Action was issued as five additional African and Asian governments and the United Kingdom announced commitments to expand contraceptive access and options.
The Addis Call to Action on the Post-2015 Development Framework voices the perspective of civil society that the ability to plan one’s family and future is a fundamental right and a sound investment. Ensuring that women and girls are able to plan whether and when to have children means mothers and babies are more likely to survive. Additionally, when countries invest in family planning alongside health, education and gender equity, they can realize a “Demographic Dividend” for economic growth and prosperity.
“We still have leaders on the African continent who are not yet hooked on the message of family planning. The promise of the Demographic Dividend is an entry point to bring those leaders on board,” said Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of the Africa Regional Office of Partners in Population and Development, who presented the Call to Action at the closing session of ICFP 2013. “No nation in history has transitioned from a developing country to middle-income status without family planning.”
“Family planning is a development imperative because it unlocks the potential of young women,” said Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Rural Health Mission in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India. “Family planning can create a profound impact when it becomes a central part of integrated maternal and child health care.”
The Addis Call to Action was launched with signatures from 35 civil society organizations and individuals, and other organizations and individuals are invited to sign at www.fpconference2013.org. The Call to Action will be presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to underscore the essential role that global development goals–such as the MDGs and the new post-2015 framework–play in catalyzing action and holding countries accountable.
ICFP 2013, the largest global gathering on family planning, brought together more than 3,000 advocates, researchers, health professionals and political leaders from over 100 countries. Presentations at the conference, which was organized around the theme “Full Access, Full Choice” and opened 12 November, focused on progress in expanding contraceptive information and services since the historic July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, which re-established family planning as a top global health priority.
- At ICFP 2013, five additional countries made significant commitments to expand family planning programs:
- By 2015, Benin will ensure that modern methods of contraceptives are available without cost and that reproductive health training is provided for adolescents and youth.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government will use domestic resources for the first time to purchase contraceptives.
- In Guinea, funds will be used to recruit thousands of health workers who can deliver family planning in rural areas, as has proven successful in other countries like Ethiopia.
- Beginning in 2014, the government of Mauritania will commit to allocating health commodity security funds for family planning and, along with its partners, commit to mobilizing additional resources for the implementation of its national family planning action plan.
- Myanmar will implement a monitoring system to strengthen quality of care and ensure women have a full range of contraceptive options.
Also today, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) announced a £27 million commitment over five years to help civil society ensure that family planning promises are delivered. Since the 2012 London Summit, and counting the commitments announced at ICFP 2013, more than 70 countries, donors and civil society organizations have pledged to collectively reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 with voluntary access to family planning.
ICFP 2013 was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This year’s conference followed the inaugural ICFP in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009 and ICFP 2011 in Dakar, Senegal.
The International Conference on Family Planning
15 November 2013
Addis Ababa — New research shows that nearly 20% of young people never make independent decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
Incorporating young people in sexual and reproductive health matters, particularly those in marginalised groups and those affected by HIV, is an issue under the spotlight this week at a global conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The results of a global online survey with young people on sexual and reproductive health are being published on 13 November, at the International Conference on Family Planning. The survey was conducted as part of the Link Up project in association with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) and the ATHENA Network.
Reaching one million young people
Link Up is a project to advance the sexual and reproductive health rights of one million young people affected by HIV across Africa and Asia. And the survey highlights how access to services for young people is unlikely to be achieved unless their recommendations are made a reality.
Through the online survey, young people spelled out the barriers to their successful use of sexual and reproductive health services saying that lack of confidentiality and trampling down of their dignity drives them away. They also made recommendations for making services easier to use, such as the service providers using polite language to speak to young people.
During the launch of the report, youth from different countries who had participated, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Myanmar, cited stigma and discrimination, unethical and unprofessional service providers and lack of youth-friendly facilities as key barriers to their accessing sexual and reproductive health facilities.
For young people, by young people
Adebisi Adenipekun, a youth leader from Nigeria, suggested that youth facilities should be managed by young people instead of the general population.
“Young people can easily identify with each other’s challenges as opposed to the rest of the population who express awe at some of the challenges,” he said. Adebisi further pointed out that the name ‘family planning’ is inappropriate in relation to the youth because they are not planning any family yet.
Many young people make unhealthy decisions such as using unsafe abortion methods and abusing medical drugs because of fear to seek help from health facilities. Nafhot Aschenahi, a youth leader from Ethiopia, gave an example of a teenage girl attending an anti-natal clinic who felt stigmatised and uncomfortable because of the way service providers asked her very embarrassing questions.
Nafhot explained that even when the girl was in labor she was not spared insults and humiliation by the people who ought to be taking care of her. “The service providers should understand that there are different circumstances that can lead to pregnancy, including rape,” she observed.
Young people to speak out
Luisa Orza from the ATHENA Network said the launch of this survey was timely, adding that young people need sexual and reproductive health services as much as other parts of the population. She encouraged young people to keep vocalising their needs and to involve their respective governments and policy makers so that their issues may be addressed.
In the community dialogues, 62.5% of the participants identified as young people living with HIV, while 7.5% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Others were young men who had sex with men and young people who engage in sex work. All community dialogue participants were aged 24 or below. Some declined to identify themselves with any marginalised group for fear of cultural stigma.
Lucy Maroncha is part of the Key Correspondents network of journalists – I am a Kenyan Print journalist based in Nairobi,Kenya.I am a passionate health writer who has been writing for 15years. My best stories are on Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV.
AIDS Accountability International (AAI) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Ford Foundation is pleased to invite you to the Zambia Maputo Plan of Action (MPOA) Progress Assessment Tool (PAT) Completion workshop in 2013. This workshop aimed at verification of the Progress Assessment Tool (questionnaire) is one of five workshops being held in five countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
CLICK HERE FOR INVITATION LETTER to the Zambia MPOA PAT Verification Workshop. It is hoped that your participation at this workshop will be important in ensuring that the PAT completed by you, the national government has been done through a transparent and collaborative process.
In addition to the above, this workshop will ensure that participants have an opportunity to debate and discuss priority areas for Zambia achieve the MPOA targets by 2015.
Venue: Cresta Golf View, Great East Road, Lusaka
Date: 18th & 19th November, 2013
Time: 8:00-13:00 (Day 1) 08:30-17:00 (Day 2)
Please confirmation your participation, or request further information from:
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Adopted at the CSO pre meeting, Africa Regional Conference on Population and Development, Addis Ababa September 26th, 2013
The Position of the African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on ICPD Beyond 2014 aims to inform the Africa regional review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action (PoA) – ICPD Beyond 2014. The Position is the product of two-day CSO consultations held September 26-27, 2013 in Addis Ababa, preceding the Africa Regional Population Conference on Population and Development held September 30-October 4, 2013.
- 1. PREAMBLE
1.1. We, African CSOs, appreciate the progress that African governments have made towards the realization of the commitments of the ICPD PoA. Since 1994, virtually all African governments have revised their policy commitments to reflect the ICPD paradigm and put in place systems and institutions to steer and oversee the implementation of the ICPD PoA. Some governments have demonstrated high-level leadership, committed resources, and adopted innovative strategies towards the realization of the ICPD PoA.
1.2. In spite of the gains, we note with concern that there are marked deficiencies in implementation, and Africa has realized the least progress in most ICPD and related MDG indicators. Maternal deaths, social inequities, high disease burden, and limited access to universal sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services remain a major barrier to socioeconomic development in Africa. Women’s social capital remains very low and entrenched inequality between men and women continues to counter socio-economic development efforts. The situation is compounded by the region’s rapid population growth, adverse effects of global warming, internal/civil conflicts, and limited accountability in use of public resources.
1.3. We reaffirm the continued relevance of the goals and principles of the ICPD PoA, notably the voluntary and rights-based approach to addressing population and development challenges in Africa as well as the position that promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive rights are essential for the achievement of sustainable development rooted in social and economic justice and economic development as well as environmental sustainability.
1.4. We recognize that a favorable economic environment is one where peace, security, and accountability prevail at all levels. We must stimulate the establishment of enterprise that is indispensable for addressing Africa’s population and reproductive health challenges and advancing inclusive socio-economic development.
1.5. We recognize that poverty, in and of itself, represents a denial of rights, and that eradicating poverty is a moral imperative for the region and a cause which all governments, regional bodies and development partners must prioritize and address in an integrated manner in order to promote the development rights of Africans.
1.6. We reaffirm the Maputo protocol and commit to its domestication and implementation. Countries that have not ratified the Protocol should commit to do so as soon as possible. Countries that are party to it should remove any remaining reservations on the Protocol.
1.7. We recognize that Africa’s population dynamics —rapidly growing population and young age structure due to high fertility, rapid urbanization due to high levels of internal migration and natural increase, rising international migration due to inequities in economic opportunities and increasing regional integration, and changing household and family structures— influence the opportunities for sustainable human development, are shaped by the decisions and actions that people take, and should be integrated in development planning.
1.8. We recognize that the on-going climate change presents unique challenges to Africa given the region’s high levels of poverty and rapid population growth. The key unique challenges include the increasing vulnerability to food insecurity and the worsening of already insecure livelihoods.
1.9. We call on governments and other stakeholders to recommit to the ICPD beyond 2014 Agenda by closing the policy-practice gap, i.e. implementing policies. This will only be possible if governments increase financial and technical investments in the largely known interventions and technologies for addressing Africa’s population and development challenges. In particular, we underscore the importance of strong political will and commitment for the achievement of the ICPD PoA commitments.
- 2. RECOMMENDED PRIORITY ACTIONS
2.1. We call upon governments, regional bodies and development partners to intensify policy and program actions to enhance the application and further implementation of the ICPD beyond 2014 Agenda along four thematic areas:
2.1.1. Human Security, Environment, Population Mobility
2.1.2.Inclusive Economic transformation
2.1.3.Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
2.1.4.Education and Employment
Read the full document.
Following Wave Of Homophobia, Zambia’s First Lady Steps Out To Oppose Sexual Orientation Discrimination.
“Silence around issues of men who have sex with men should be stopped and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation,” Christine Kaseba-Saba said in a statement human rights activists have hailed as a “miracle.”
Zambia’s first lady, Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, called for an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation during a reception hosted by UNAIDS on Tuesday evening in the country’s capital, Lusaka.
This took human rights activists by surprise — this year has seen a rapid deterioration of LGBT rights in the country, with arrests of men on sodomy charges and the prosecution of activist Paul Kasonkomona for calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality during a television appearance. Recently there has also been a waving of outings of LGBT people by Zambian tabloids.
“Silence around issues of men who have sex with men should be stopped and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation,” Kaseba-Saba said. “Rather, we should address reproductive health issues around this issue.”
She also reportedly said those working on public health issues among men who have sex with men have the president’s support despite the increasingly homophobic climate in the country.
Kaseba-Sata’s words could carry special weight because she is one of the country’s leading OB/GYNs, practicing and teaching in some of the country’s top medical institutions for more than 25 years. She is also the World Health Organization’s good will ambassador against gender-based violence for 2014.
“The statement is a breakthrough to the Zambian HIV/AIDS and reproductive health response for sexual minority groups, which also has direct implications to the broader HIV/AIDS and [sexual and reproductive health] response,” said Lilian Kiefer, executive director of the development and poverty organization Panos Institute Southern Africa, which is based in Lusaka. “She has demonstrated the kind of leadership and objectivity that is required in comprehensively addressing HIV/AIDS and [reproductive health] from a human rights angle.
In a post published at allAfrica.com Richard Lee of the South African-based human rights organization the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa called the statements a “miracle” and “potentially game-changing” for LGBT rights in the country.
But some LGBT activists were less impressed.
One LGBT activist who asked that his name not be used fearing retribution directed at his organization, told BuzzFeed, “Even as much as we applaud the first lady for making such a bold statement…. It begs the question as to why she has been silent all along.”
Her remarks also do not necessarily change policy, he continued. “If this this was a statement issued by the president, it would have been a different story, and then at least it would have had the backing of the head of the executive. However, as things stand, the first lady’s opinion does not move mountains in this case.”
J. Lester Feder is a foreign correspondent for BuzzFeed and 2013 Alicia Patterson journalism fellow.
Nairobi — Thirteen agencies working in Africa have issued a Joint Statement calling on African governments to strengthen their child protection systems to secure the right of children to a life free from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect in both emergency and non-emergency settings.
The Statement stresses that fulfillment of this right to protection will directly contribute to the achievement of national socio-economic development and poverty reduction agendas in Africa. The agencies, which include UNICEF, as well as networks of NGOs, are to deliver their recommendations during the 22nd Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, on 6 November 2013, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
” When children are protected from violence, exploitation, and abuse, they are more likely to attend school and to improve their academic performance,” said Théophane Nikyèma , Executive Director, The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), speaking on behalf of the agencies. “They are also less likely to experience health problems. This agenda is an important contributor to the development of human capital in Africa.”
Over 400 million children live in sub-Saharan Africa, almost half of the total population. Although data on child protection issues is limited, the risks of violence, abuse and exploitation are significant. A growing number of country studies show very high prevalence rates of physical and sexual violence, and associations between violence and a range of physical, reproductive and mental health problems. Almost 40 percent of girls are married by age 18, and approximately 60 percent of children are not registered at birth. Female genital mutilation/cutting is practiced in some 29 countries in Africa, with prevalence rates of 80 percent or more in some of those countries.
In addition, many children also face justice systems that are poorly equipped to support children, whether they are in conflict with the law, victims, witnesses, or in need of care and protection. Evidence also indicates children with disabilities face violence, abuse and stigma while ethnic, linguistic, religious and other divides can also increase the risks to children.
In the Statement’s Call to Action, the agencies argue that effective child protection depends on appropriate policies, legislation and regulations, as well as structures and implementation that depend on social acceptance and funding. Actions are needed to strengthen effective promotion, prevention and response to violence, abuse and exploitation, and high quality evidence and data are needed to improve decision-making on child protection.
” We are all seeking positive outcomes for children,” added Théophane Nikyèma , Executive Director, The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). “Experience shows that improved social services and laws that speak to real threats bring benefits to communities as a whole. No one wants to live in places where children are degraded and harmed, and coordinated and resourced efforts can make a real difference in the future of African nations.”
There has been increasing momentum in sub-Saharan Africa on the child protection systems agenda. Nearly half the countries have completed or launched exercises to map and assess their child protection systems, allowing them to describe those systems and specify priority areas of engagement and investment. Some countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, have begun the process of redefining their child protection systems through development of new policy frameworks, tapping into existing practices and resources and forging links between the informal and formal parts of the system, thereby making the system in its entirety more sustainable, effective, and ‘fit’ for the country context.
Sub-national coordination mechanisms built around child protection committees or the equivalent, are rolling out in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Human resource gap analyses have been conducted in some countries to inform the strengthening of the social service workforce serving the most vulnerable communities.
The Statement’s Call to Action endorses strengthening protection systems that are integrated, child-centered, and guided by the best interests of the child. In the past, interventions often focused on a single issue or risk to children, but experience shows that an individual child can be confronted by multiple needs, violations and severity. Accordingly, the agencies call for holistic approaches that acknowledge the complexity of children’s problems and the need for a multi-disciplinary response. Child protection systems should be sensitive to context and environment; take full account of the child’s role in the system; and create better coordination, engagement, and capacity of a wide range of actors, from children, youth and families, to traditional and faith leaders, to government, civil society and the private sector.
After the Committee meeting, the agencies plan to continue to promote the Statement’s Call to Action before individual governments, Regional Economic Communities, UN agencies, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and representatives from civil society organisations, academia, and the private sector.
Note to editor:
‘Strengthening Child Protection Systems in Sub- Saharan Africa; A Call to Action’ is a joint document produced by African Child Policy Forum; African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect; Environnement et Développement du Tiers-monde; International Social Service; Mouvement Africain des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs; Plan International; Regional Inter-agency Task Team on Children and AIDS; Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative; Save the Children; SOS Children’s Villages International; Terre des hommes; UNICEF; and World Vision. .
The systems approach, agencies are calling for, is guided in Africa by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the African Youth Charter (AYC), and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women’s Protocol). The approach is in full alignment with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and other international conventions, instruments and standards.
The ACRWC specifically addresses children’s right to protection related to child labour, child abuse and torture, juvenile justice, parental care and protection, harmful social and cultural practices, separation from parents and adoption, sexual exploitation, and the sale, trafficking and abduction of children.
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A Life of Dignity for ALL, A Post-2015 Development Outlook We must do everything to achieve the MDGs by 2015
A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, a report by the United Nations Secretary-General to the UN General Assembly and which will be one of the most important reports that will be discussed and resolutions adapted on its findings and recommendations at the present 68th Session of the Assembly. We will highlight the most important features of this important document and other related ones in the coming days.
Bringing this vision to life will require a number of transformative and mutually reinforcing actions that apply to all countries.
Eradicate poverty in all its forms. Poverty has many manifestations and is aggravated by discrimination, insecurity, inequality and environmental and disaster risks. Therefore, the eradication of poverty calls for a multifaceted approach, encapsulated in the concept of sustainable development, focusing on both immediate and underlying causes.
Tackle exclusion and inequality. In order to leave no one behind and bring everyone forward, actions are needed to promote equality of opportunity.
This implies inclusive economies in which men and women have access todecent employment, legal identification, financial services, infrastructure and social protection, as well as societies where all people can contribute and participate in national and local governance.
Empower women and girls. The new agenda must ensure the equal rights of women and girls, their full participation in the political, economic and public spheres and zero tolerance for violence against or exploitation of women and girls.
The practice of child marriage must be ended everywhere. Women and girls must have equal access to financial services, infrastructure, the full range of health services, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and water and sanitation; the right to own land and other assets; a safe environment in which to learn and apply their knowledge and skills; and an end to discrimination so they can receive equal pay for equal work and have an equal voice in decision-making.
86. Provide quality education and lifelong learning. Young people should be able to receive high-quality education and learning, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling, including not only formal schooling but also life skills and vocational education and training.
Improve health. Address universal health-care coverage, access and affordability; end preventable maternal and child deaths; realize women’s reproductive health and rights; increase immunization coverage; eradicate malaria and realize the vision of a future free of AIDS and tuberculosis; reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental illness, and road accidents; and promote healthy behaviours, including those related to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Address climate change. The international community must reconcile the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change while supporting the growth of developing countries. While the worst effects of climate change can still be averted by building the resilience of and investing in those communities and nations most vulnerable to disasters risk, those efforts will require a greatly stepped-up response, in keeping with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. A successful outcome to the intergovernmental climate change negotiations is critical. Every effort must be made to arrive at a legally binding agreement by the end of 2015, as decided in Durban, South Africa, in 2011.
Address environmental challenges. Environmental change has compounded problems worldwide, especially in vulnerable countries, reducing their capacity to cope and limiting their options for addressing development challenges. Managing the natural resources base — fisheries, forests, freshwater resources, oceans, soil — is essential for sustainable development.
So too is building the resilience of and investing in those communities and nations most vulnerable to disasters, especially in the least developed countries and small island developing States.
Promote inclusive and sustainable growth and decent employment. This can be achieved by economic diversification, financial inclusion, efficient infrastructure, productivity gains, trade, sustainable energy, relevant education and skills training. Labour market policies should focus in particular on young people, women and people with disabilities.
End hunger and malnutrition. Addressing hunger, malnutrition, stunting and food insecurity in a world experiencing rapid population growth will require a combination of stable and adequate incomes for all, improvements in agricultural productivity and sustainability, child and maternal care and strengthened social protection for vulnerable populations.
Address demographic challenges. While the population of developed countries is projected to remain unchanged at around 1.3 billion, the population of developing countries is projected to increase from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050. Countries with a high rate of population growth are generally on a path of falling fertility, especially as education for girls and sexual and reproductive health services become more widely available. Progress in these areas would enable many households to slow fertility rates, with consequent benefits for health, education, sustainability and the demographic dividend for economic growth. Countries with a high proportion of young people need to offer education and opportunities for decent work. Countries with an ageing population need policy responses to support the elderly so as to remove barriers to their full participation in society while protecting their rights and dignity.
By Alula Berhe Kidani
4 November 2013
Blantyre — As one way of showing commitment towards the protection of a girl child in the country President Dr Joyce Banda has established a Special Committee on the Acceleration of Girls Education in Malawi.
The President disclosed this on Thursday at Sanjika Palace during an audience with High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern Africa saying this committee will look at how to overcome traditional barriers to girls’ education, such as early marriages and pregnancies.
The Head of State then called upon relevant authorities to hold the necessary consultations and lobbying to ensure that the country attain the right to support for the age of marriage in Malawi to be raised to at least 18 years for both boys and girls to give them time to acquire enough education before marriage.
“There is no question about my personal commitment to the raising of the marriage age. I am however aware that this is a delicate issue among some traditional leaders, conservative communities, faith leaders and some legislators.
“That is why, in my opinion, it is best that we do our homework by engaging all stakeholders and bring the bill to parliament at the right time for us to succeed,” said the President Banda.
The president highlighted that there is so much that the country can achieve through working with traditional leaders who are guardians of traditional culture. She said the T/A’s ability to mobilise support within their communities will be crucial in promoting and protecting girl child at a local level.
The president said she was very pleased to learn that some chiefs have already started taking big strides in promoting the girl child through the creation of a Declaration of Commitment to be signed by Paramount and Senior Chiefs.
“This declaration focuses on issues of the girl child in a holistic way, looking at education, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, early marriages, and HIV, while also taking advantage of the positive aspects of our culture and cultural ceremonies to support these efforts,” delighted the head of state.
In her remarks leader of the High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern delegation, Professor Sheila Tlou who is UNAIDS Regional Director commended President Dr Joyce Banda for her efforts in improving the welfare of the girl child education and her continued support to girls’ education.
She however requested for the formation of a high level committee which will oversee the enactment of the marriage bill so that more girls should be able to complete their education before marriage.
BY YAMIKANI YAPUWA
1 NOVEMBER 2013
23 October 2013: The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has issued reports from each of Africa’s sub-regions on priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including themes and proposed goals, targets and indicators. The reports serve as input to the Africa Regional Consultative Meeting on the SDGs taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 31 October-5 November 2013.
The meeting will include expert and ministerial segments, and aims to agree on an African common position that will serve as Africa’s collective input to the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs.
The Report on SDGs for the West Africa Subregion (ECA/SDG/4) identifies poverty as the main challenge and proposes targets based on current country Millennium Development Goal (MDG) achievements. The report proposes focusing on nine SDGs, 42 targets and 178 indicators, under the following seven themes: overall poverty reduction; human development; infrastructure development; inclusive economic growth and structural transformation; good governance, rule of law, peace and security; ensure sustainable use and management of natural resources (forest, water and soils); and external financing and partnerships.
The Draft Report on SDGs for the North Africa Subregion (ECA/SDG/5) proposes four global objectives, 30 targets and 48 indicators. First, it aims to curb the marginalization and social exclusion of vulnerable populations through, inter alia: sustainable agriculture and food security; poverty reduction and employment; safety nets and social protection; and regional integration. The report secondly proposes: promoting the transition to a green and inclusive economy, including inclusive growth; and addressing climate change, disaster risk reduction (DRR), desertification and drought. Third, it suggests ensuring universal access to basic services, including health care, water and sanitation. Finally, it aims to build lasting peace based on transparency.
The Report on SDGs for the Central Africa Subregion (ECA/SDG/6) identifies nine priority areas: peace, security and sociopolitical stability; governance and accountability; physical infrastructures for transportation, energy, water and sanitation; poverty, food security and sovereignty; green growth and creation of decent jobs; improvement in access to healthcare for all; improvement of access to quality education and professional training for all; protection of the environment, management of natural resources and climate change; and gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Draft Report on SDGs for the Southern Africa Subregion (ECA/SDG/7) proposes six priority themes: poverty eradication; education and technical skills; gender equality and empowerment; health and nutrition; environmental sustainability; and governance. The report recommends avoiding pitfalls of the MDGs, such as failure to design goals at the same level, fragmentation, partiality and lack of ownership.
GENEVA — A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)finds millions of adolescent girls suffer serious long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy. Globally, the U.N. agency estimates 7.3 million girls under 18-years-old give birth, including two million girls younger than 14.
Giving birth to a baby should be a happy moment in the life of a woman. But, for millions of adolescents around the world, early pregnancy and childbirth results in serious health problems, social exclusion and even death.
In developing countries, 20,000 girls under 18 give birth every day, the report says. It estimates some 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Among those who survive, many will develop an obstetric fistula. This is a hole in the birth canal, which leaves the girl leaking urine constantly.
The director of the UNFPA office in Geneva, Alanna Armitage, says adolescent girls are at increased risk of child marriage and sexual coercion. Maternal death among girls under the age of 15 from low- and middle-income countries is twice that of older females,” says Armitage.
“Our report shows that nine out of 10 pregnancies to girls under 18 take place within a marriage. And, as you may know, every day, 39,000 girls are married in violation of their basic human rights. One in nine is married before the age of 15 and this, of course, will continue as long as families, communities and governments tolerate child marriage,” she said.
The report highlights the economic impact of adolescent pregnancy. It notes the lifetime opportunity costs related to adolescent pregnancy range from one percent of annual GDP in China to 30 percent of annual GDP in Uganda.
To drive this point home, the report notes $3.4 billion could have been added to the Kenyan economy had the more than 200,000 adolescent mothers in the country been employed rather than pregnant.
The report finds in every region of the world, impoverished, poorly educated rural girls are more likely to become pregnant than those who live in richer, more urban areas. UNFPA Senior Maternal Health Advisor Luc de Bernis says the highest rates of adolescent maternal mortality are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
He says the problem is marginally greater in the Francophone than the English-speaking African countries.
“Africa is not homogeneous and we have many differences, but the fact is young girls are not protected in the majority of these countries — not in the Francophone for sure…and not in the English speaking world,” said Bernis. “In Kenya, Uganda, you have a rate of abortion which is absolutely enormous and it explains a big part of the maternal mortality. A big number of these abortions occur among very young girls.”
The report says adolescent pregnancy is a much bigger challenge in the developing world than in developed countries. But it finds that adolescent pregnancy is still a significant issue in the richer nations.
It says blaming a young girl for getting pregnant is counter-productive. Instead of changing the girl’s behavior, the report says, society should change its attitudes and actions.
Among the recommendations for reducing adolescent pregnancy with its related risks, the report suggests keeping girls in school, stopping child marriage, and providing adolescents with access to sexual and reproductive health, including contraception.
By Lisa Schlein
30 October 2013