It has now been twenty years since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICDP) in Cairo set up new measures and principles concerning sexual and reproductive health. This conference showed how questions of population growth and social and economic development can only be tackled by taking up a rights-based approach.
Where do we stand, 20 years after the adoption of the Cairo action plan, which strung together family planning, development policy and strengthening women’s rights? But 220 Million women still do not have access to birth control and even now 25% of girls in southern Africa leave schooling due to unplanned pregnancies. It seems obvious that there are still too many serious hindrances to gaining access to services for sexual and reproductive health.
At this year’s symposium we are addressing these obstacles and wish to stress the continuing importance and relevance of the Cairo 1994 findings for international health cooperation.
We are putting the youth - which make up a central group in our society, at the centre of our discussion, in order to make the advances in health for women and girls, mothers and children that are necessary. Which barriers must we get rid of to help young people gain access to health services? How can we make health services for sexual and reproductive health better suited to the needs of young people? What needs to change in our societies in order for young people to be able to stand up for their right to health?
Martin Leschhorn Strebel, Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland
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