Master Plans for Development

ICPD - International Conference on Population and Development

5-13 September 1994

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was convened under the auspices of the United Nations and was organized by a secretariat composed of the Population Division of the UN Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis and UNFPA.

It was the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held, with 11,000 registered participants, from governments, UN specialized agencies and organizations, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the media. More than 180 states took part in negotiations to finalize a Programme of Action in the area of population and development for the next 20 years. It was the first international conference that did not specifically address women's issues and interests but at which they were nevertheless the main focus of attention.

The Programme of Action, adopted by acclamation on 13 September 1994, endorses a new strategy that emphasizes the integral linkages between population and development and focuses on meeting the needs of individual women and men, rather than on achieving demographic targets.

The key to this new approach is empowering women and providing them with more choices through expanded access to education and health services, skill development and employment, and through their full involvement in policy- and decision-making processes at all levels. Indeed, one of the greatest achievements of the Cairo Conference has been the recognition of the need to empower women, both as a highly important end in itself and as a key to improving the quality of life for everyone.

One of the primary goals of the Programme of Action is to make family planning universally available by 2015 as part of a broadened approach to reproductive health and rights. It also includes goals in regard to education, especially for girls, as well as goals to further reduce levels of infant, child and maternal mortality. It addresses issues relating to population, the environment and consumption patterns; the family; internal and international migration; prevention and control of HIV/AIDS; technology, research and development; and partnership with the non-governmental sector. The Programme of Action provides estimates of the levels of national resources and international assistance required and calls on governments to make those resources available.

The Programme of Action builds upon the World Population Plan of Action, adopted at the World Population Conference held in Bucharest in 1974, and the recommendations adopted at the International Conference on Population, held in Mexico City in 1984. It also builds on the outcomes of the World Summit for Children (1990), the UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992), and the World Conference on Human Rights (1993). In turn, the ICPD's major emphases were reaffirmed at the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women, both held in 1995.

Countries were urged to include population factors in all development strategies, and to act to eliminate gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices, including female genital mutilation.