World Population Day 2005 “Equality Empowers”

Posted by khmernews on June 14, 2007

Statement on the Occasion of
World Population Day 2005 “Equality Empowers”
Ms. Bettina Maas, UNFPA Representative
11 July 2005
Venue: Royal School of Administration

Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of Office of Council of MinistersExcellency Senior Minister You Hockry, Chairman of NCPD
Excellency Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Ministry of Women’s Affairs
Excellencies Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of UNFPA, I am honored and pleased to be here on the occasion of the World Population Day. First, I wish to sincerely thank H. Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Excellency Senior Minister You Hockry, Excellency Minister Ing Kantha Phavi, Excellencies for honoring the occasion of the World Population Day. I would also like to thank the National Committee for Population and Development for their efforts in organizing this event. The fact that we have gathered here today is yet another gesture of the commitment to supporting Cambodia’s efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs) and the eradication of poverty. The presence of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An indeed underscores the Government seriousness in this undertaking.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This year marks an important turning point from a global perspective with regard to development efforts in monitoring our progress towards achieving the objectives and goals of the Millennium Declaration. At the national level, government and donor agencies are in the process of taking stock of where we stand in terms of poverty reduction efforts in the context of CMDGs.

Today like in many parts of the world, national governments and people are celebrating the World Population Day to obtain increased attention to population issues as central to all development interventions. By focusing this year’s Population Day on gender equality we recognize that if we want to safeguard humanity’s future and achieve human rights we must give equality its central role. As H.E You Hockry and H.E. Dr. Ing Katha Phavi noted, the world focuses on the important theme of “Equality”, which is critical to bringing about a freer and fairer world for everyone. This means equality for all to education, economic opportunities, health including reproductive health and participation in decision making.

The UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNFPA, Ms. Thoraya Obaid reminds us today:

“Six decades later (that is after the UN Charta), it is clearer than ever before that human rights must be at the center of efforts to reduce poverty, discrimination and conflict. Today on World Population Day, let us recommit ourselves to this vision of a better world. Let us commit ourselves to equality, justice and human rights for all. The benefits of gender equality are many. They include a higher quality of life for individual women and girls, and stronger families, communities and countries.

On the other hand, the costs of maintaining inequality are also high and can be measured by broken bodies, shattered dreams and crushed spirits. The costs include high rates of maternal death and disability because women’s health is not made a political priority. Today, poor sexual and reproductive health is a leading cause of death and illness for women in the developing World. No other area of health reflects the large inequities between rich and poor, both among and within counties. Poverty and inequality also fuel the acceleration of HIV infection, because women lack the power to negotiate their personal safety. But perhaps the highest cost of gender discrimination is widespread violence against women and girls, which remains one of the most pervasive and shameful human rights violations, compromising the personal security, liberty, dignity and will-being of millions of women and children worldwide.

The world can do better. The solutions are well known and effective. They include universal education for all girls and boys, the removal of barriers to women’s equal participation in social, cultural, economic and political life, the engagement of boys and men in the struggle for equity, mass awareness raising campaigns, and the implementation of laws and policies that promote and protect the full range of internationally agreed human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health. All of these actions fall under the banner of “equality”.

Equality is an end in itself and a cornerstone of development. Equality is a goal that demands sustained political commitment and leadership. Today, on World Population Day, I urge leaders at every level to speak about the great gains that equal rights offer the entire human family and to take concrete and urgent action to make these rights a reality”

Ladies and Gentlemen

UNFPA has supported Cambodia for the past ten years in achieving the goals of ICPD ( International Conference on Population and Development) including of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and gender equality, now integral part of the CMDGs. We appreciate the long way Cambodia has come with regard to promoting gender equality and empowerment of women. More girls are enrolled in primary and secondary schools. There is increasing the number of women as member of parliamentarians, senators as well as in civil servants. Many women have joined the labour market as garment factory workers. Increasingly women and young people have access to information and health services especially to reproductive health.

However, as we all recognize gaps still remain. Not all girls enrolled can go as far as completing upper secondary schooling not to mention completing tertiary tertiary education. Many of them tend to drop at a lower level. There are still a low percentage of women participating in legislative body and decision making levels. Limited numbers of women participate in higher income economic activities Health status in particular sexual reproductive health and rights of women and children remain critical concerns, In particular, maternal mortality, which remains very high in Cambodia shows the tragic consequences and inter linkages of poverty, lack of access to RH services, low educational levels and lack of decision making power of girls and women. Women risk their lives giving live.

Cambodian women and girls with knowledge and power can shape not only their own future but take an active part in shaping the future of the Cambodian society. When allowed to exercise their rights, their chances to educate themselves, earn an income and contribute to society will increase. And when everyone is allowed to take part in production and all other areas in society, economic growth and development will increase.

This calls for continued and increased commitment and resources to be invested in promoting women’s rights, education, health and reproductive health including for adolescents, if we are to achieve the CMDGs by the year 2015 We must continue investing in reproductive health and rights for health and economic reasons and for our ultimate aim of achieving poverty eradication and human rights.

The successful experience with addressing HIV/AIDS in Cambodia clearly shows that with political commitment and appropriate resources a difference can be made. Let us today commit ourselves to do the same for women’s health, for making pregnancy and delivery safer, eliminating violence against women and providing equal opportunities for girls and boys to be educated.

UNFPA will continue to support Cambodia’s efforts towards achieving these goals.

Thank you.


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