Africa Civil Society Statement on ICPD Beyond 2014

Prepared to be read to the Ministers, Addis Ababa 4 October 2013

As African civil society organizations, we are your citizens. We are your citizens in all our diversity. We welcome the wide consultations initiated at national, regional and global levels over the last year, deliberating on progress in achieving the MDGs and the ICPD Programme of Action. We consider this a momentous opportunity to develop the next globally agreed development framework that is people-centered and based on human rights principles.

In the many consultations that have been held, including the most recent one last week where over 200 civil society representatives gathered here in the ICPD Pre-Conference, there was strong consensus that Africa has progressive human rights agreements such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Abuja Declaration on HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, that give as a basis for the vision of the Africa we want.

We recognize the efforts made in implementing the ICPD PoA and other agreements, but note that there are marked deficiencies in implementation, and Africa has realized the least progress in most ICPD and related MDG indicators. High levels of maternal mortality, poverty, social inequities, disease burden from both infectious and non-communicable diseases, low levels of schooling, low status of women, limited access to SRHR information and services, and the underfunded health sector remain major barriers to socioeconomic development in Africa. The situation is compounded by the region’s rapid population growth, adverse effects of global warming, civil conflicts, and limited accountability in use of public financial and natural resources.

We believe the ICPD and any ensuing development framework will not be successful if we do not strengthen governance, political and economic systems that are grounded in the Human Rights framework, gender equality, integrity and accountability in use of public resources and service delivery, inclusiveness and investment in human development.

We must recognize that sustainable development entails striking a balance between meeting the social, economic, and health needs of current and future generations with environmental protection and preservation of natural resources, and that Africa’s population dynamics influence prospects for sustainable development. All governments and other stakeholders should reinforce integration of population dynamics and the environment at all levels of development planning and programme implementation.

We call on our leaders to maximize Africa’s chances of harnessing the Demographic Dividend by ensuring universal access to family planning and other reproductive health services, empowerment of women, investments in quality education and public health, and economic reforms that facilitate savings, investment and promotion of industries that reinforce value addition, create decent employment, with particular attention to job creation and livelihood opportunities for women and youth.

Human security should be anchored in a human rights perspective which includes elimination sexual and gender based violence in private and public spheres, in conflict and post conflict situations, and expand access to justice for survivors, and strengthen existing institutional structures.

Institute and extend social protection mechanisms to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable groups including children, the sick, the elderly, persons with disability, and other disadvantaged people, recognize and account for unpaid care work while at the same time reducing the burden of care work on women and girls.

Close inequities in education relating to gender, geography and socio-economic status by making schools safe spaces free from violence and abuse, and take special measures to enroll and retain girls, the rural and urban poor, persons with disabilities, young people in conflict situations, those living with HIV, and other marginalized communities at all levels of education

In recognition that Health is a human right and an important driver and key indicator of what sustainable development seeks to achieve, we urge governments to operationalize the right to health by adopting equity and rights-based planning and resource-allocation, facilitating community participation in health decision-making and programming.

Prioritize and adequately finance universal access to comprehensive, quality and integrated SRH services including adequate counseling, information and education; access to effective and high-quality contraceptives, comprehensive maternity care, access to safe abortion services, prevention and treatment of infertility, STIs, reproductive cancers and other diseases.

Increase access to safe, legal abortion, recognizing the right to safe abortion as enshrined in Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Right of Women and the Maputo Plan of Action on SRHR, and address legal and other barriers such as spousal and parental consent, for women and young people accessing SRH services.

Ensure that the right to health, especially SRHR, for all people including marginalized groups such as rural populations, persons with disabilities, adolescent girls, out of school youth, sex workers, migrants, displaced populations, indigenous people, people living with HIV, older people and people of different sexual orientations and gender identities is respected, free from stigma, coercion, discrimination and violence,

Formulate and implement policies and programs that promote positive African cultures, and challenge harmful traditional practices such as FGM and early marriage before the age of 18, which are at the root of gender inequality, violence against women and girls and the legitimatization of women’s subordination.

In conclusion, we urge governments, development partners and other stakeholders to implement the recommendations above, in order to achieve the goals of the ICPD agenda, the recommendations in its subsequent reviews and other development frameworks, harness the Demographic Dividend and achieve sustainable development.