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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Activities by Key Global and Regional Parliamentary Groups in the Second Half of 2003 and Early 2004
ISSUE 29 - 11 June 2004
Parliamentarians are a critical component in promoting the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action around the world. Regional and global parliamentary groups on population and development allow parliamentarians to meet and discuss the challenges and goals of creating an enabling environment and mobilizing resources for ICPD implementation.
This issue of UNFPA's Global Population Policy Update highlights the activities of three regional parliamentary groups in the second half of 2003 and early 2004. Another issue, to follow shortly, will highlight the activities of other key regional and global parliamentary groups.
1. Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population Development (AFPPD)
On 1-2 August 2003, the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IAPPD), in cooperation with AFPPD, UNFPA, UNAIDS and the Government of India, organized an International Conference of South Asian Parliamentarians for the Advocacy Role of Elected Representatives in the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in New Delhi. The overall goal of the meeting was to develop strong leadership among South Asian nations on the issue of HIV/AIDS. With over 100 Indian and foreign participants from 25 countries in attendance, the conference aimed to promote advocacy with respective governments for the allocation of adequate funds for HIV programmes. Also discussed at the meeting was the need to review relevant laws and statues, with a view to eliminating those sections that discriminate against AIDS victims.
During the same meeting, on the last day, AFPPD held its 51st Executive Committee Meeting under the chairmanship of Mr. Yoshio Yatsu, MP (Japan). Members reviewed AFPPD's progress and approved programmes focused on ICPD at10, which will provide a framework for parliamentarians' activities for the next four years. The Executive Committee confirmed Dr. Sang Guowei, MP (China), who is replacing Mr. Zhang Huaixi, MP (China), as new Vice-Chairman from China. The committee admitted Laos, Iran and the Solomon Islands as members, and Pakistan's membership was also revived.
On 9 - 17 August 2003, the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA), in cooperation with AFPPD and the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAAPPD), organized a visit of Japanese Parliamentarians to South Africa and Zambia to help them obtain first hand knowledge about the HIV/AIDS situation, sustainable water supply systems and public health programmes in these countries.
On 2-3 October 2003, the Asian Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference on Empowerment of Women and Gender Equality was held in Manila, the Philippines. The conference was organized by the Philippines Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) and AFPPD, in cooperation with UNFPA and the Government of Japan. It brought together more than 100 participants, which included 40 parliamentarians and 10 ministers from 17 countries. The theme of the meeting was "Empowered Women: Breaking the Chains of Poverty and Gender Inequality".
The conference provided a platform for women parliamentarians' and ministers' to share their experiences, the success and obstacles that they have encountered in creating political commitment in their respective countries to gender issues. Some of the topics addressed at the conference were on the general situation of poverty; gender and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific; progress towards the elimination of violence against women (VAW); the impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS, on women and adolescents; and how culture, religion and advances in science affect population, reproductive health and family planning issues.
The first meeting of the Standing Committee on Women was also held during the same conference on the evening of the first day. This meeting was attended by women parliamentarians from 14 countries, and was chaired by Ms. Kelly Hoare, MP (Australia). It was agreed that the role of the committee was to promote gender issues in AFPPD and to recommend gender-related programmes and activities to the AFPPD Executive Committee. The meeting included a briefing on AFPPD's work on gender empowerment and the efforts that have been made to encourage participation of women in all AFPPD events. Gender as an issue is included in all AFPPD events. Currently, the AFPPD Executive Committee has 4 women parliamentarians from Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, out of a total membership of 15.
The Inter-Country Parliamentarians Workshop on HIV/AIDS was held on 30-31 October 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand. This conference was organized by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and AFPPD, with the support of the Parliament of Thailand, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, the International Medical Parliamentarians Organization (IMPO) and UNAIDS. It brought together more than 80 parliamentarians to discuss how political support can be provided to the development of an AIDS vaccine. The workshop discussed the AIDS situation in the Asia Pacific region, the measures necessary to address HIV issues and most importantly, the potential development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine. The entire workshop was videotaped, and a field visit was arranged to a vaccine trial center.
On the 6-7 December 2003, AFPPD organized the 5th International Medical Parliamentarians Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in cooperation with IMPO and UNFPA. The conference was attended by 104 parliamentarians from 52 countries who discussed such topics as poverty, population, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, family health, ageing, communicable diseases and substance abuse.
At the 19th Asian Parliamentarians Meeting on Population and Development held on 14-15 December in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, parliamentarians reiterated their commitment to addressing the interrelationship between population and water. Organized by APDA in cooperation with AFPPD, the meeting called for each country to review its water use for agriculture, industry and domestic consumption, and to create an effective national water strategy across all sectors and ministries. The meeting also called on each country to incorporate safe water supply and education into its national population policy, in order to ensure food security and poverty reduction. The parliamentarians also reaffirmed the AFPPD Bangkok Statement on Food Security and Population.
During this meeting, AFPPD held it's 52nd Executive Committee Meeting under the chairmanship of Mr. Yoshio Yatsu, MP (Japan). The Executive Committee discussed AFPPDâ€™s progress from August to December 2003. They approved programmes and proposals for country level support for 2004.
2. Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAAPPD)
On 22-25 July 2003, FAPPAD organised a workshop in Yaounde, Cameroon, on Adolescent Reproductive Health Advocacy, Fundraising and Resource Mobilisation for parliamentarians, NGOs and civil society organizations in Central Africa. This workshop and the one for Southern Africa (immediately below) were the two major events organized by FAAPPD in 2003. The objectives of the workshop were to equip the trainees with advocacy skills; enhance their knowledge and skills in fundraising, coalition building and networking; and sensitise them on adolescent reproductive health issues, the Ottawa Commitment and the New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD).
On 11-14 August 2003, the Workshop on Adolescent Reproductive Health Advocacy, Fundraising and Resource Mobilisation for parliamentarians, NGOs and civil society organizations in Southern Africa was held in Lusaka, Zambia. As alluded above, the Lusaka Workshop had the same themes and objectives as those of the Yaounde Workshop. These workshops were organized by the Forum in collaboration with UNFPA, and sponsored by the UNFPA Japan Trust Fund for Inter-country and NGOs Activities. In both workshops, country delegations developed and adopted a series of recommendations, and prepared country specific Plans of Action.
On 3-5 December 2003, FAAPPD's Sub-regional Office in Amman, Jordan, organized the 4th Arab Parliamentary Meeting on Population and Development in Rabat, Morocco. Delegates comprising parliamentarians and representatives of Family Planning Associations and UNFPA from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Tunisia, Sudan, Djibouti, Lebanon, Iraq, Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Egypt reviewed the population situation in the Arab World.
Among the topics that were on the agenda for the meeting were: immigration; poverty; reproductive and sexual health among adolescents and young people in the Middle East; the role of women and the gender issues in the Arab World; and the achievements by the Arab countries on the implementation of the ICPD Program of Action, including the successes (and failures) relating to gender and reproductive health and rights of young people.
With regard to the ICPD at10 review, delegates felt that there was a lack of progress in the realization of the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action, 10 years after Cairo. Despite the lack of progress and failures, however, there were success stories that needed to be highlighted. For example, 20 years ago, there was no talk about family planning in the Arab World like today. This was seen as a radical cultural change.
3. Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (IAPG)
On 14-22 May 2003, the Latin American and European parliamentarians participated in a study visit to Colombia and Brazil organized by IAPG, to learn about the population and sexual and reproductive health programmes in these countries. The objective of this tour was to increase the parliamentarians' understanding of population and development issues, with an emphasis on the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the Beijing Platform for Action.
For more information on this activity you can visit the following site: http://www.puntoyaccion.com/webrevista/Paginas.htm
On 26 - 27 May 2003, IAPG participated in the Council Meeting of the Inter-European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development in Lisbon, Portugal. IAPG was represented by Ms. Laura Carneiro MP (Brazil), who made a presentation on the sexual and reproductive health situation in her country and IAPGâ€™s work throughout the region. Around 50 European parliamentarians participated in the meeting, as well as NGOs working on reproductive health issues and representatives from the regional parliamentary networks on population and development and the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank.
On 12 June 2003, IAPG organized a parliamentary Information Dialogue Session on Emergency Contraception at the Legislative Palace in Montevideo, Uruguay. The main objectives of this meeting were to educate parliamentarians and participating agencies about emergency contraception and adolescent reproductive health, and to provide an impetus for increased parliamentary activities on these issues. The meeting was jointly coordinated by the Uruguayan Family Planning Association and the IAPG members in the Uruguayan Congress. This meeting was followed by a conference on 13 June of obstetricians and gynecologists on emergency contraception, in which around 40 physicians participated. The latest research and protocols for emergency contraception were presented and discussed. Additional informal meetings were later held in Argentina to discuss ways in which parliamentarians could support sexual and reproductive health programmes under the new administration of President Nestor Kirchner.
On 7 August 2003 a Parliamentarian Meeting on Population and Development was held in Brasilia, Brazil, to address the theme of sexual trafficking of children and adolescents. The objective of the meeting was to exchange information and promote dialogue on the well-being and health of the adolescent population. Recent initiatives taken at the regional level were discussed, as well as the significance of parliamentariansâ€™ participation in these matters.
On 10-11 March 2004, over 300 delegates from Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and Europe participated in an Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the ECLAC Sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development in Santiago, Chile. The objective of this meeting was to evaluate the advances made by Latin American and Caribbean countries in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action. With the exception of the United States, all delegations approved by acclamation a statement that called upon all countries of the region to intensify their efforts to improve the development and the well-being of their populations. IAPG actively contributed to the event, facilitating the participation of a group of Latin American legislators. The legislators presented a report before their peers on the further implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action.
With the support of parliamentarians from the main political parties in the Mexican parliament, IAPG organized a Public Forum on Population, Development and Sexual and Reproductive Health, which took place in the San Lazaro Legislative Palace, Mexico, on 30-31 March 2004. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the UNFPA Country Office in Mexico, with the active involvement of four legislators who had previously attended an IAPG-sponsored study tour to Colombia: Congressman Lino Celaya Luria (PRI) and Congresswomen Martha Lucia Micher (PRD), Maria Cristina DÃiaz (PRI) and Blanca Judith Diaz (PAN).
The specific objectives of this forum were:
- To create legislative and social support for the Mexican Official Norm for family planning services in order to counter attacks by the opposition;
- To underline the importance of sexual and reproductive health of the youth; and
- To invite interested parliamentarians to establish a multiparty parliamentary group to work on areas related to population and development, and to formally join IAPG.
IAPG is currently consulting with various parliamentarians and organizations on the best ways to follow-up on this initiative.
On 18 March 2004, the Parliamentary Meeting on Health and Population took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The meeting saw the participation of legislators from both chambers at the federal level, legislators from various provinces and experts from government and civil society organizations.
The main objectives of the meeting were:
- To call the attention of the newly elected members of the Argentinean legislatures to the linkages that exist between population and development; and
- To invite parliamentarians from all political persuasions to organize themselves into a study and action group on population and development, working with the pertinent Commissions in the parliament and seeking the support of organizations with expertise from academia and civil society.
IAPG invited participants to establish a national parliamentary group on population and development that would be affiliated with IAPG. Parliamentarians agreed to work on the establishment of such a group. A follow-up visit is expected to take place in the second half of 2004.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (November 2002, 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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