Leaders urged to adopt new commitments to champion women rights

President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders present at the ICDP25 conference at KICC, Nairobi
President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders present at the ICDP25 conference at KICC, Nairobi

Leaders, civil society groups, organizations from at least 100 nations present at the International Conference on Population development in Nairobi have been urged to take up measures to improve and safeguard the basic and reproductive rights of women globally. The 25th anniversary of the ICDP, labelled ICDP25 meeting is being staged in Nairobi, with the first one taking place in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. The ICDP offers a platform to champion women reproductive health and rights, and in the first meeting 25 years ago, at least 170 governments adopted a programme for action and called on women’s rights to be markedly highlighted in global efforts.

Speaking at the Conference during is opening on Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the ongoing conference grants the chance to review the progress made so far but also lay down a new commitment. He said commitments should be made to increase access to secondary and tertiary education for boys and girls, accelerate reduction in maternal deaths, eliminate female Genital Mutilation (FGM), eliminate violence against women and girls, eliminate child marriages, accelerate women’s equal participation and representation at all political, public and corporate spheres, and strengthen partnerships.

He noted that education is the currency of the 21t century yet it’s still not stable in many parts of the world and even enrollment to tertiary education is low in many middle-income countries. He said the strides achieved by Kenya in pushing for gender parity and women rights, “We have achieved universal access to free primary and secondary education..Further we have achieved gender parity in both primary and secondary schools,” he said.

He also pointed out that the rate of child and infant mortality has been reduced. He said reduction in maternal deaths has been slower but steady, from 698 in 1994 to 362 per 100,000 live births currently, and highlighted that the proper care is critical, “And yet, as we are demonstrating through Kenya’s First Lady’s ‘Beyond Zero’ programme, most maternal deaths can be prevented with proper antenatal care, skilled delivery at birth and access to emergency obstetric care,” he said.

The ICDP25 had drawn discomfort and even protests form a section of Kenyans led by the clergy, who had expressed their concerns that the Conference would set the stage for an unwanted agenda, specifically discussion son LGBT rights. President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in separate occasions had warned that no agenda would be forced on Kenyans.