UNFPA Commemorates 50th year anniversary in Addis
The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) marked its 50th year anniversary in Addis Ababa at Sheraton Addis, in the presence of Naltalia Kanem (MD), UNFPA’s executive director and President Sahile-Work Zewde. The event also commemorated its 25 years, of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which was first held in Cairo in 1994.
Since the adoption of the ICPD Program of Action by 179 countries in Cairo, Egypt, a lot has been changed, said Kanem, mentioning the attitudinal and legal changes regarding child marriages and female genital mutilation, increased family planning methods usage, the bulge in the younger section of the population across the African continent, and the decrease of the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS.
But the same challenges that brought together the world leaders 25 years ago still persists and the continent is grappling with them, despite the successes registered during those years.
“We must claim our achievements. We also have to understand that medicine and health issues, they seem to stay the same but they have changed rapidly. There is no question that huge progress has been made for women and girls in Africa. Death in child birth has nearly been halved. But we still have the same problem, until it becomes zero; there is no reason for a woman to die while giving birth,” Kanem asserted.
She also commended the achievements in decreasing birth rate which enables families, communities and national governments take their savings that has been set aside for providing basic services to the youthful population. And instead, invest it in other developmental aspects, to reap the demographic dividend.
Although successes are celebrated, Africa is unlikely to ensure universal access to sexual reproductive health services as long as one in five women do not have their family planning needs met and as long as one in three women are still being married by the age of 18 and as long as one in six women aged 20-24 experience gender based violence.
Therefore, the UNFPA commits for zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls, Kanem indicated.
For nations to recommit themselves for the targets set and achieve the zero plans by 2030, an ICPD summit is called for November in Nairobi, Kenya where President Uhuru Kenyatta showed self-commitment to end female genital mutilation during his tenure.
Despite the global effort to unleash the potentials of investment in the population, the Ethiopian government is criticized for not giving the due attention population matters require. One of the manifestations of this is the Population Development Directorate under the Planning and Development Commission which has remained without a director for the past five years.