CP who? My engagement with the Conference on Population and Development

By Ramya Kudekallu, YWCA of India. Ramya recently attended the  UN 47th Commission on Population and Development at the UN in New York and shares her views.

2014 has been the snow balling time frame for development as we all quickly rush towards milestone years in 2015, such as the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Beijing Platform for Action.

With these fast approaching, and a need in the international community to be fully involved all eyes are now set on UN mechanisms and the post 2015 development framework.


Ramya Kudekallu

The world is now at the new cusp of progress, accountability and inclusion. The tapestry of development is weaved with the language of human rights. Except…its NOT! As ideal as all the above sounds, my observations at the conference on population and development has lead me to be concerned that although we may have come far, our leaders are still hesitant to get their feet wet.

And as individuals, communities and countries begin to understand what human rights means to them, it becomes vital for them to be placed at the very heart of it. 20 years ago, as an indication of commitment to the issues of sexual and reproductive rights, nations agreed that the key is women and girls. The result was a definitive programme of action that would compel countries, for the next 20 years to focus on equality, empowerment of women, reproductive health, sustainable development and growth.

As I follow the CPD negotiations, it frustrated me to see governments still arguing that eradication of poverty and unemployment are not tied into aspects of reproductive health so time is being wasted on such ‘priorities’. I simply can not comprehend why any country would believe that a population, that is unhealthy, uninformed or neglected in terms of access to health facilitates would be any kind of happy cog leading to profit.

Today, we no longer look at poverty as we did 20 years ago. It’s not just an income figure but a view that any circumstance which is deprived of health, education, and living conditions is poverty. That’s right; health is actually a condition that determines poverty!! In the Asia Pacific Region, close to a billion people live in this situation.

To consider sexual reproductive health and rights is to consider life itself, because the origin of all human life is (shockingly) sex. The point countless community and health workers, researchers, doctors, activists and civil society organisations are trying to get at is that every aspect of sexual health and well being is deeply connected with a nations’ well being. Sexual reproductive health and rights is allowing people, man or woman, young or old, or any race or any creed to better engage in decisions concerning their bodies, gender and relationships. It is also about combating discrimination or every kind be it against someone living with HIV and AIDS, someone of a different sexual orientation or even (again shockingly) for being born a woman.

When a population begins to gain control over unwanted pregnancies, prevent sexually transmitted diseases and have the means to make decisions on the number of children to have at the greater purpose of development is achieved and sustainable so. To add, practices such as marrying young girls and making unhealthy and often dead mothers out of them only means fewer girls will be able to get an education, acquire employment and contribute their economies.

Allowing women to decide whether or not they are ready to be mothers, to be should not be a question of faith or religion but a question of humanity. No higher power or Creator finds redemption or good in a girl of 10 dying from childbirth or a family not having enough resources to educate, feed or provide a healthy wholesome upbringing for their children.

There is lots of valuable research around the inter-linkages of SRHR and economic growth, proving only; to governments like above how crucial it is for them to bring SRHR to the forefront.

I suppose it is easy enough to be critical and apocalyptic, but the truth is, now more than ever, as individuals we need to engage in systems that are making choices for us. CPD is about this engagement. Outside the heated negotiating rooms of geo political tugging and talk of finance and agendas, you will find the real people on the ground dealing with the everyday realities. You may not be able to break past the regions, the cultures, the races, the appearances, the positions, the creeds and even the genders but that’s the point! In spite of all these factors I saw that more and more and more individuals decided that they would not stand for violation of rights or diluting the value of life.

So CP who? CP, you! MGD…who? MDG, you! Engage now!