The 6th International Parliamentarians Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD) took place from April 23-25th 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden.
The Conference brought together 263 parliamentarians from 134 countries around the world to assess progress and challenges remaining in the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, since 1994. Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (CAPPD) Vice-Chairs, Mylène Freemen and the Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, represented Canada at the conference.
A passionate leader on sexual and reproductive health and rights, Ms. Freeman attended the Conference as a member of the delegation of ‘young parliamentarians.’ Ms. Freeman chaired the panel ‘Realizing the ICPD Beyond 2014 vision in the Post-2015 framework at the national level.’ Panelists included Mr. Johnson, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr. Melesse, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Hon. Mr. Takemi, MP from Japan, Chairperson of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) and Member of the High-Level Task Force on ICPD (HLTF). Ms. Freeman, together with other young parliamentarians, took part in a side meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, to explore possible avenues for international cooperation among young parliamentarians. She also took part in the Grand Opening of the exhibition “Too Young to Wed” organized by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry’s extensive leadership skills and substantive knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights were highly valued within the drafting committee responsible for the ‘Statement of Commitment,’ in which CAPPD participated throughout the duration of the Conference.
(Hon. Dr. Fry, 30sec. & 3m10sec.)
In the video clip, Hon. Dr. Fry makes clear that “we need to give young people influence, in a real and concrete manner.” This Statement picks up on this pressing need, by acknowledging young people’s right to access youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education, which is key to preventing unwanted pregnancies, STIs, including HIV, and addressing negative gender stereotypes.
The Statement acknowledges strong support for the promotion and protection of human rights and the elimination of discrimination, recognizing that human rights are central to achieving the goals of the ICPD. It also recognizes the need to empower women and girls, with a focus in increasing their participation in decision-making processes.
Concretely, the Statement commits parliamentarians to:
- Advocate for enforcement of laws to prevent and punish hate crimes without distinction of any kind, and take active steps to protects all persons from discrimination, stigmatization and violence;
- Remove legal regulatory and social barriers to reproductive health information and services for adolescents; and ensure access to contraception as well as a wide range of modern methods of family planning, and emergency contraception;
- Ensure provision of sexual and reproductive health and rights services for survivors of sexual violence;
- Remove legal barriers preventing women and adolescent girls from access to safe abortion, including revising restrictions within existing abortion laws, and where legal, ensure the availability of safe, good-quality abortion services; and
- Advocate for increased development assistance budgets for population assistance, and ensure the target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for official development assistance as agreed at the previous IPCI/ICPD conferences.
Regarding the Post-2015 development agenda, the Statement calls for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, as well as a goal on the rights of young people, with a focus on ensuring their access to sexual and reproductive health. It also calls for the integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights within the health goal.
Despite strong efforts made by CAPPD members, and parliamentarians from other governments, the reference to respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions was omitted from the text at the last minute. Nonetheless, strong supporters of LGBT rights advocated for the creation of a stand-alone adjoining text, the Declaration on Human Rights, which centers on the eradication of all forms of discrimination, specifically as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Declaration calls on States to guarantee equality before the law and non-discrimination for all people and to take active steps to protect all persons from discrimination, stigma and violence, as well as for these issues to be brought up during the next IPCI Conference, in 2016.
This Conference marked one of the final events recognizing the 20-year anniversary of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action. Critical to this review process is ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights feature prominently in the Post-2015 development agenda. Parliamentarians at the 6th IPCI were clear, “we commit to work with our governments to ensure that the outcome of ICPD Beyond 2014 Review constitutes the basis for further implementation of the ICPD and to integrate it in the Post-2015 development agenda.”
Mylène Freeman and Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry also paid a courtesy visit to H.E. Kenneth Macartney Canada’s Ambassador to Sweden. H.E. Macartney provided a general briefing on Sweden and key areas of cooperation between the two countries.
Returning to Ottawa this week, Ms. Freeman and Dr. Fry are proud of what they accomplished alongside fellow parliamentarians. “Now, more than ever, we need to garner political support for the commitments outlined in the IPCI Statement of Commitment document. I look forward to working with CAPPD members and other parliamentarians to advance this agenda here in Canada, and abroad” said Freeman.