The World gathered in Nairobi last week to review the global commitment on population and development that was made 25 years, at a conference in Cairo where 179 governments adopted a Programme of Action, recognizing that reproductive health, women’s empowerment and gender equality are the pathway to sustainable development.
Under the theme; ‘’accelerating the promise’’, The faith leaders from many religions, including Hindu, Christian and Muslim had a moment to reflect on their role, challenges and opportunities they have to accelerate the promise around three main zeros; Zero maternal Deaths, Zero unmet family planning needs, and Zero GBV.
The faith actors recognized that there is an increase in adolescent pregnancy and maternal child death, harmful practices and gender-based violence, with statistics being cited from different countries; of course, with Africa leading in reverse. Religious leaders found this a disturbing trend and presented a need for faith actors to question death out of these three areas.
“African Women die at childbirth and at the funeral service, the faith leaders who are called to celebrate the life of the departed 25-year-old says, The Lord gives and takes! The Big question is; Is God or Allah only interested in Africana Women that He calls them to glory faster than their counterparts in developed countries? We need to raise our liturgy, we cannot keep preaching only, we must condemn and question this situation.” said one of the faith leaders.
The faith institutions have structures and institutions that can accelerate access to services and should engage more in policy dialogues to strengthen public healthcare services, to make it more responsive and equitable to healthcare needs of women, children, men and youth. “ICPD1 to 25 mean nothing if we don’t translate the global process in local context that can transform lives of the rural person especially women. We shall Come back for ICPD30 and still be talking about statistics instead of transformation. A death of one mother is a death of a community”, said another faith leader.
While the ICPD aims to achieve the SDGs that are central to universal sexual and reproductive health by 2030, and in the SDG spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’, there has been a sharp division between some faith actors and the UNFPA constituency in the ICPD+25. These faith actors allege that ICPD+25 that is being hosted in Kenya is advancing the agenda of same sex marriage, calling for abortion (Safe abortion) and promoting LGBTQI. Many faith-based institutions and persons didn’t get accredited to participate in the conference and the Catholic community is cited to have pulled out of the ICPD+25 process. This creates uncertainties if we are indeed on course to achieve the global commitments of the SDGs when some stakeholders question or misinterpret the objectives of the global communities 25 years later.
Patriciah Roy Akullo works for ACT member DCA as the Advocacy Officer for the Uganda Forum. She engages in national and regional level advocacy on gender justice, climate change, and DRR among other advocacy issues pertinent to the forum.