IPPF Unveils Its Vision for the Future at the UN
Samantha Gladu, Guest Contributor
On the first day of the 46th Session of the Commission on Population and Development at the United Nations in New York City, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched its new vision for the future of international development.
A 10-point call to action for governments, Vision 2020 is endorsed by IPPF’s global network of 152 Member Associations, who are leading sexual and reproductive health service providers and advocates in 172 countries. Key Vision 2020 goals include reducing the number of unsafe abortions, eliminating discrimination against women and girls, and engaging “young people in all policy decisions affecting their lives.”
IPPF shared their plan at a reception that was co-hosted by the government of Norway. IPPF President Naomi Seboni and IPPF Director General Tewodros Melesse provided remarks, along with UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Dr. Nafis Sadik. Following a brief luncheon, attendees filed into the ticketed event, which quickly filled to capacity.
Melesse introduced the program with a declaration that sexual rights and reproductive health are issues of global policy and that sexuality is the center of development, beginning with the family and extending to communities and, on a larger scale, nations. Melesse closed his statements with a call for attendees to “join [him] in demanding that world leaders take action” to make sexual and reproductive health and rights front and center in their policy decisions.
Commenting on the high rates of violence against women and reproductive health challenges, Dr. Osotimehin put it bluntly: “We do not treasure women; we do not treasure our girls.”
Norway Ambassador to the United Nations H.E. Geir O. Pedersen reinforced the need for investments in women and girls, specifically sexual and reproductive rights and health, stating that "it’s not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.” He added that Norway achieved its economic success by focusing on the economic empowerment of women.
H.E. Pedersen also touched on the issue of opposition to the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights, stating that “backlash is one of the big challenges to the international community,” and “this reactionary force has to be confronted by all of us.” Meanwhile, a small number of opponents to sexual and reproductive health and rights were in the room, offering their critiques of Vision 2020 via social media.
Despite the backlash against the advancement of SRHR, more needs to—and will—be done. Dr. Sadik, who was instrumental in brokering the historic Cairo Consensus, highlighted that realizing the Vision 2020 goals will require collaboration, tenacity, and increased investment by donors in local organizations, including youth and women’s groups, to advocate with their national governments and in key international fora.
Naomi Saboni closed the panel, stating that while “IPPF’s founders would have marveled at [the progress we have made], today it is not enough.” Vision 2020 is about rights and justice for all, and women and girls must be at the center of the international development agenda going forward.
Samantha Gladu is a student of community development at Portland State University. An ardent supporter of reproductive justice, Gladu is currently a global youth advocacy fellow with Planned Parenthood Federation of America.