As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on the health and economies of countries around the world, governments, non-government organizations, and the private sector are stepping up political, financial, and in-kind support for women’s health and rights in developing countries.
A year ago, at the landmark Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the world came together to commit to ending preventable maternal death, the unmet need for contraception, and gender-based violence and harmful practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation, by 2030. At that Summit, more than 8,000 delegates from 170 countries made 1,250 financial and other commitments in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, reports that major donor governments are already substantially delivering on the amounts they pledged in Nairobi. And some are even surpassing what they promised, demonstrating their steadfast commitment to the rights of women and girls at the time it is most needed.
“The commitments made in Nairobi are more critical now than ever before. Far from dampening our ambition, COVID-19 has only sharpened our focus and resolve,” says UNFPA Executive Director, Natalia Kanem. “I am heartened to see so many government, private sector and civil society partners take bold steps to sustain our collective efforts and deliver on our promises to women and girls. As long as we stand together, we will prevail.”
Civil society, the private sector, academia, and others rallied behind the cause on an unprecedented scale, pledging over $8bn towards achieving zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030. Governments also announced major commitments, including: $552m from the United Kingdom to UNFPA to boost supplies of contraceptives; $1.2bn from Norway for sexual and reproductive health and rights in development and humanitarian settings between 2019 and 2025; $23m from Germany for sexual and reproductive health and rights and $35m to UNFPA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other commitments included $34m from the EU for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, and $16m from Denmark to UNFPA for sexual and reproductive health.
In September 2020, UNFPA established a High-Level Commission to ensure all the commitments made at the Summit stay on track, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chaired by Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, the Commission will make recommendations so that the momentum created in Nairobi continues towards a world of rights and choices for all.
“We will never lose sight of the world we are fighting for — one of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all,” Kanem concluded