The promise of Cairo: population data has a crucial role to play

November 21, 2019

From 12 to 14 November 2019 more than 9,700 participants from over 170 countries gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which was held in Cairo in 1994. That summit marked a landmark shift in the global attitude towards access to sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s empowerment, topics that are now more relevant than ever. GRID3 actively participated in the conference introducing how its technology solutions can facilitate access to quality health services and help to move the needle to realize both the ICPD objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GRID3 experts joined world leaders, activists, demographers, scientists and other inspirational figures at the Nairobi Summit, which garnered commitments and created momentum vital to fulfilling the promises of Cairo. Renewed focus on the ICPD goals is urgently needed; there are still more than 800 women dying every day from reasons connected to pregnancy and childbirth, and a staggering 232 million women in developing countries lack access to modern contraceptives.

The sobering statistics come exactly 25 years after the initial ICPD in Cairo when the world named access to sexual and reproductive health a human right, and decisively stated that no mother should die while giving life (for more info: UNFPA/ICPD). These and other goals, like the end to all gender-based violence and discrimination, were captured in the so-called Programme of Action (PoA), which subsequently and to a large degree shaped today’s mandate of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one of GRID3’s partners and the main organiser of the Nairobi Summit. Much has been achieved since Cairo but a lot of work still lies ahead and the inclusion of innovative solutions is crucial for the promises made in 1994 to be fulfilled, especially for those who encounter themselves furthest behind and often even completely off the map.

GRID3 can make an important contribution to progress on PoA and SDGs: 98 of the 232 Sustainable Development Goals Indicators rely on population data. These data have to be exact and extend into areas that have previously often been unreachable for governments and development experts alike. With access to more precise population data, leaders have the power to make better informed decisions and implement policies that ensure sustainable development in the short and long term.

GRID3 has the technical knowledge and creativity to tackle many of the issues related to missing reliable population data and tailors its support to specific scenarios. Still, technology cannot exist in a vacuum and the days of techno-optimism, the belief that technology will solve all the world’s problems just by virtue of being new, are long numbered. This is why the GRID3 programme combines traditional approaches and know-how with innovative technology; flexibility is key when it comes to finding the right fit for each country GRID3 supports and to achieving the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action.

The Nairobi Summit ended with participants vouching to end maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030.

GRID3 is firmly committed to contribute to fulfilling the ICPD promises by providing data and capacity strengthening that will enable decision makers everywhere to rely on the best population data available when laying the groundwork that will shape the future of the planet.

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