Midway through a landmark 20-year programme of population and development reforms, the United Nations observed World Population Day today calling on governments to increase their commitment to promoting women's rights and investing more in education and health care.
In a message marking the Day, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled that 10 years ago in Cairo, Egypt, 179 governments agreed that population policies leading to more decent lives for people would have to be addressed if development policies were to succeed.
“They agreed that women's empowerment and gender equality and the elimination of violence against women and girls were cornerstones of population and development policies,” Mr. Annan said.
He noted that the Cairo Programme of Action has since guided governments in their efforts to address population dynamics, increase access to education and reproductive health services and to empower women to fulfil their fundamental human right to take part more fully in society.
Mr. Annan stressed, however, that too many people have not yet seen these personal gains.
“Greater commitment and action are urgently needed, especially when it comes to promoting women's rights and increasing investments in education and health, including reproductive health and family planning,” he said.