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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Activities by Key Global and Regional Parliamentary Groups in the First Half of 2003
ISSUE 10 - 20 October 2003
This issue of UNFPA's Global Population Policy Update focuses on the population and development-related activities of two regional parliamentary groups and Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) in the first half of 2003. Parliamentarians are indispensable in promoting the International Conference on Population and Development's (ICPD) Programme of Action around the world. Regional and global parliamentary groups on population and development provide opportunities for parliamentarians to meet and discuss the challenges and goals of creating an enabling environment and mobilizing resources for ICPD implementation.
1) Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (IAPG)
On 26 March 2003, IAPG organized a public hearing for parliamentarians and journalists entitled Myths and Realities of Emergency Contraception. The hearing was conducted to sensitize parliamentarians, journalists and the general public to the importance of emergency contraception (EC) in Peru, a country where the public does not have sufficient access to and information on EC even though there is an emergency contraceptive on the market. The hearing, which included parliamentarians and NGO representatives from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, was held in the Peruvian Congress in Lima. On 27 March, it was followed by a workshop about EC for obstetricians and gynecologists. Both the hearing and the workshop were widely attended and, as a result, parliamentarians, journalists, physicians, midwives and the general public received updated, complete and accurate information from prominent experts on the usage, effectiveness and safety of EC.
In May 2003, IAPG conducted a two-part parliamentary study tour that covered Colombia and Brazil. The study tour enabled participants to gain first-hand experience on the two countries' sexual and reproductive health programmes. The delegation included parliamentarians from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, the Netherlands and Peru, as well as representatives from UNFPA and the local family planning associations, BEMFAM in Brazil and Profamilia in Colombia. The study tour, which emphasized the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, helped to facilitate an exchange of perspectives among parliamentarians so that they could learn how support for sexual and reproductive health programmes can affect the quality of life of men, women and young people. During the visit, IAPG and Parlatino — a Latin American regional parliamentary body with 22 member countries — signed a cooperation agreement to continue working not only with Parlatino's Commission on Equity and Gender but with other Parlatino commissions acting on related issues as well.
On 12 June 2003, IAPG organized a parliamentarian meeting on emergency contraception in Montevideo, Uruguay. The meeting's objective was to sensitize parliamentarians to the importance of EC. Participants included parliamentarians from Uruguay and Argentina, as well as local NGO representatives. The debate highlighted the need for parliamentarians to work at all levels, in partnerships with government ministries and civil society. This meeting laid the groundwork for the creation of a national all-party group of parliamentarians in Uruguay on population and development.
See http://www.iapg.org (website to be launched in November 2003)
2) Inter-European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (IEPFPD)
On 10 March 2003, the fourth meeting of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank (PNoWB) was held in Athens, Greece. 140 parliamentarians from 65 countries attended the meeting. Along with representatives from AFPPD and IAPG, IEPFPD co-hosted a session of the meeting on population and development, which was attended by more than 30 parliamentarians. At the Athens meeting, participants endorsed the Parliamentarians Implementation Watch, a parliamentary initiative to promote and monitor countries' work towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs, which were adopted by 189 countries at the U.N. Millennium Summit in September 2000, include halving poverty, overcoming hunger and environmental degradation and spurring significant improvements in gender equality, health care and education by 2015. Network members held a meeting of their HIV/AIDS committee to highlight the World Bank's role in the prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS, mobilize parliamentarians through advocacy and discussion and inform key partners and political leaders across the globe of the need to take urgent action.
On 26 and 27 May 2003, IEPFPD's third council meeting took place in Lisbon, Portugal. The meeting was held in the Portuguese Senate at the invitation of the Portuguese Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, the Portuguese family planning association and João Bosco da Mota Amaral, President of the Portuguese Parliament. Members of twenty European parliaments attended, along with representatives from the regional parliamentary networks in Asia (AFPPD), Africa and the Arab World (FAAPPD) and the Americas (IAPG). UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid and IPPF Director-General Steve Sinding delivered the keynote speeches, calling for European parliamentarians to take steps to ensure universal access to reproductive health. Attendees focused on resource mobilization, creating an enabling environment and overcoming barriers and obstacles to implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. Meeting attendees adopted a declaration in which they:
- Reaffirmed the ICPD Programme of Action as the basis for progress in ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all people;
- Acknowledged that they would strive to maintain the Programme of Action;
- Reaffirmed their determination to overcome the many remaining obstacles to full implementation of the Programme of Action;
- Acknowledged the importance of resource mobilization and pledged to strongly urge an increase in funding for family planning and SRHR from their governments;
- Committed to progress towards the creation of an enabling environment at the national, European and international levels through the exchange of experiences and best practices; and
- Pledged to take up SRHR, population and development proactively in their work in parliament.
3) Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)
On 10 May 2003, PGA collaborated with Plan International and Programme National de Lutte Contre l'Excision (PNLE) to organize a workshop on female genital cutting in Bamako, Mali. The workshop took place at the National Assembly in Bamako, which is notable because the issue of female genital cutting could not be discussed in the National Assembly as recently as three years ago. This workshop was very well received by the Malian parliamentarians and successfully sensitized them to the issue of female genital cutting.
On 26 May 2003, PGA gave a presentation at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Conference of Chairmen in Abuja, Nigeria. Kenneth Dzirasah, Second Deputy Speaker of Ghana and PGA President, and Ulrika Broback, PGA's Junior Project Officer in Mali, spoke at the conference about the scope of PGA's work. The presentation formally introduced PGA to the ECOWAS Parliament. On 13 June, the Parliament and PGA signed a Memorandum of Understanding ensuring that both organizations would "work collaboratively on issues of political integration and sustainable development in West Africa." The two organizations agreed to collaborate in planning activities and identifying relevant parliamentarians to participate in dialogues on development. PGA and the ECOWAS Parliament will also organize seminars on human trafficking, migration, population, health and sustainable development in the region.
On 23 and 24 June 2003, PGA co-organized a parliamentary meeting on HIV/AIDS with the Policy Project and Pathfinder Nigeria. The meeting was held at the National Assembly in Bamako, Mali. Since 62 per cent of the Malian deputies had been elected to parliament for the first time, the workshop was conducted to inform Malian parliamentarians about the problems associated with HIV/AIDS. The parliamentarians learned about the AIDS Impact Model and the Modele RAPID (Ressources pour Analyse de la Population et de son Impact sur le Developpement) — two methods that allow governments and businesses to analyze the effects of HIV/AIDS on national development.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (the first conference was held in November 2002, in Ottawa, Canada). These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
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