Cairo+15: still in debt to women

By Télia Negrão

It’s currently going on a world wide process aiming to evaluate the implementation of the Cairo Program of Action after 15 years of its approval by the United Nations, in 1994, in Cairo. The ICPD/1994, as it’s known, has brought up to the debate about demography and health a new vision which condemns the birth control policies, assumes the reproductive rights based on autonomy and informed decision, and recognizes the sexual and reproductive rights as an essential aspect to people’s lives.

Actually, the Cairo Conference has established a new paradigm of economical development and human rights. However, the 15 years of its implementation were impacted by eight years of Bush’s conservative management and its fundamentalist policy known as ABC (abstinence, be faithful, condom). It’s clear that the conservative offensive of the Vatican and other religions have been interfering in the creation of the laws and the public policies all around the world.

The concrete result of this position was the reduction of resources to governmental programs that are strategic in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention, public policies to prevent non desired or planned pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexual violence, among others, as well as the decrease of the support to the civil society actions in this field. These facts, added to the reforms in the health sector and the sequence of international economic crisis, keeps Cairo as an agenda indebted to women who live with high mother mortality rates, feminization of HIV and AIDS, high violence rates and violations to the human rights on health.

It’s widely known the role the feminist and women movement played in the Cairo Conference/94 and in the following events (Cairo+5 and Cairo+10) as those movements have demonstrated the relation of the issues discussed to the human rights. As protagonists of this process, women gave concrete and real examples of the policies impact on the women lives. It’s due to this movement that the concept of reproductive rights, even tough the sexual rights, hasn’t been recognized neither by the ICPD/94, nor by its following events.

Last March, the meeting at the UN to evaluate Cairo regarding the Millennium Goals has once more deleted the word “sexual rights” and maintained the old concept of sexual health.

In order to strength the civil society strategies, it is being held in September, in Berlin, a World Forum of NGOs in the field of the Cairo agenda. Before that, in August, a preparatory regional meeting took place in Panama. If there is something new in the agenda that is the alliance between the feminist movement and the women of networks, and articulations linked to Cairo – indigenous women, afro descendents, seropositive women, sexual workers, youngsters, elderly, that come together in an effort to assure the integral implementation of the Cairo Platform. It’s an alliance that strengths the demands of health and of sexual and reproductive rights anchored in the respect of diversity and that has in common the commitment to the change of the society paradigms which don’t accept any other justification for not implementing public policies and the keeping on with the human rights violations. 



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