Caribbean reaffirms Cairo agenda

Posted: 13 November 2003

Twenty Caribbean countries and territories have reaffirmed their commitment to the action programme of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). They also declared that implementation of the programme is "essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals" including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Meeting in Trinidad, to assess their progress in carrying out the ICPD Programme of Action nearly 10 years after its adoption, the countries pledged to ensure reproductive rights and health, gender equality and the empowerment of women. They also recognized the rights of adolescents to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information, education and services.

Calling HIV/AIDS a major threat to the region's economic and social structures, they vowed to fight the pandemic through prevention, treatment and care in the context of reproductive health programmes.

Turning to broader issues, the Caribbean countries stated that their populations, economies and societies had been hurt by structural adjustment programmes, heavy debt repayments and inequitable trade practices. They called on international donors to increase financial support for implementation of the ICPD programme.

'Revolutionary'

At the start of the two-day meeting, Camille Robinson-Regis, Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Planning and Development, hailed the 1994 Cairo conference as "revolutionary in its thinking and concepts".

"No longer was the issue of population only about numbers - it was and is about living, breathing human beings facing life's daily challenges," she said. "It is about gender equality and equity, and the rejection of all forms of gender-based violence. It is about preparing for a wanted baby and providing for its healthy childhood. It is about improving the quality of life of all mankind."

Trinidad and Tobago's national policies on population and development are guided by the Cairo programme and its objectives of sustained economic growth, reduction of maternal and child death, and universal access to reproductive health services, Ms. Robinson-Regis stated.

The meeting's outcome will contribute to an assessment next year of the implementation of the Cairo programme throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean region. It comes at a time when both the US administration and the Catholic Church are opposing some aspects of the Cairo agreement, including access, where it is legal, to safe abortion.

Source: UNFPA