Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

By Laura Reichenbach; Mindy Jane Roseman | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Global Reproductive Health and
Rights: Reflecting on ICPD

Mindy Jane Roseman and Laura Reichenbach

More than a decade after the enthusiasm that launched the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), there is growing concern about the status of ICPD. Does it have the same purchase today as it did in the immediate post-Cairo period? While many gains have been achieved because of ICPD (Countdown 2015 2007; UNFPA 2004a, b; Haberland and Measham 2002; UNFPA 1999), the health and development issues that brought the nations of the world to consensus persist. Approximately half a million women die in childbirth annually; the AIDS epidemic is increasing in both scale and scope; declining fertility rates in much of the world have not translated into improved standards of living. Over one billion people live in extreme poverty and have inadequate access to health care. The post-ICPD world is still one where women do not exercise control over their bodies. Women and girls are forced into marriages and into sexual relations. Their spouses and families make decisions about when and whether they can leave the home, be it to go to work or to obtain health care. Their governments do not protect them from domestic violence. And in too many places women who belong to ethnic or other minorities are subjected to involuntary sterilization and other forms of violence.

Should more have been accomplished, more than halfway through ICPD’s twenty-year Programme of Action? And in looking toward its fifteen- and twenty-year reviews, how might ICPD’s potential be finally realized? The Programme of Action laid out an innovative and broad framework for population and development. Following the Cairo conference, 179 nations agreed to the Programme of Action’s sixteen chapters (UN 1995). The Programme explicitly addressed a comprehensive

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