By Yadanar Aung, YWCA of Myanmar. Yadanar is currently in attendance at the UN 47th Commission on Population and Development at the UN in New York and shares her views about her experience.
I am currently attending the 47th session of the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD 47), as part of the World YWCA delegation. The session is held at the UN headquarters, New York from 7th – 11th April, 2014 and is organised by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.
On April 5th, 2014, we had the youth caucus at Planned Parenthood Federation America (PPFA) and a strong youth statement has since been endorsed by many organisations and as a result one of the youth caucus members was invited to speak at the official CPD 47th session on the first day April 7th, 2014. The key message of the oral statement articulates that “governments must demonstrate their political commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) by prioritising the removal of financial and legal obstacles to essential services and discriminatory laws and practices that violate our rights; transformation of weak health systems; and the elimination of social and economic inequalities, violence and discrimination. Furthermore, we are hopeful that member states will take action toward the implementation of the ICPD Program of Action by validating emerging issues at the highest levels.”
The theme of the session focuses on “Assessment of the status of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”. This theme gave me many thoughts: are we just attending the meeting and just going back by giving report? Are we, as civil society, effectively implementing the ICPD PoA? How about the governments? Do they have commitments or just signing? Are they really implementing the ICPD PoA?
Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), recalled that Cairo had been part of a forward-moving agenda to empower women and girls. “While we have moved forward, there is still much to do,” he said. Gender discrimination persisted. Poor urban and rural women alike lacked access to family planning, and one in three births in developing countries were not registered. The gaps in the Programme of Action must be examined to bring the promise of the early 1990s to all.
Moreover, I was really amazed to hear the wonderful speech of Nafis Sadik, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific “The biggest single obstacle to better public health is not money or technology”, she said. “It is entrenched prejudice and discrimination by society against girls and women.”
“The youth which voices are not heard, which do not have the opportunity, no meaningful participation and no decision making role are called as Lost Generations and among them adolescent girls are at risk because of their gender and age.” said Ahmad Alhendawi, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth.
Every day, the country delegates report their statements on how the implementing process is going in respective countries and I have realised that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and adolescent girls are still not the priority in their agenda. Well, there are some countries which are very progressive, implementing the ICPD PoA and creating the significant changes, but we can even count how many the countries are.
As a young woman, when I think about my responsibility, raising the voice of our sexual and reproductive health is important. Yet, action speaks louder than words and effective implementing of programmes which promote young women’s SRHR is definitely the responsibility of all young women for all the young women and by the young women.
My first step before I go back is to speak with the ambassador of Myanmar about the current situations of young women and adolescent girls in Myanmar and actions to be taken. Myanmar statement of implementation of ICPD PoA emphasises that “to promote gender equality and empowerment of women, Government has put national strategic plan for investment in women for 2013-2022 in line with CEDAW”. Furthermore, effective advocating and implementing of SRHR is definitely my duty for the young women in Myanmar as well as the Asia Pacific Region.
This whole week at the 47th session of CPD gave me many experiences and I really Thank God for this wonderful blessing to be part of this wonderful group of World YWCA and I really thank World YWCA and YWCA of Myanmar for empowering me.