Speech by Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the ICPD Summit on 12 November 2019 in Nairobi

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

A quarter of a century ago, in Cairo, we agreed on an ambitious agenda, with sexual and reproductive health and rights at its core. 

It is fitting for all of us to return to the African continent today, to look back on our efforts of the past 25 years. And to look ahead to the challenges of the future. 

Looking back, we see progress. Progress that is measured in lives saved and rights fulfilled. 

But looking ahead: much work remains to be done. Giving birth still too often costs women their life. Girls still get pregnant because they are not empowered to make informed decisions. And GBV continues unabated, as well as FGM and child, early and forced marriage. 

Let me briefly touch on three issues we must address if we want to fulfill the promise of ICPD, the promise of human dignity: universality, policy and synergy. 

First, universality. The pressure on the rights of women, adolescents and LGBTI is mounting. We must uphold their rights. We must uphold them together, with the types of broad coalitions that only a shared commitment to universal values can bring about. At the General Assembly I spoke on behalf of a large number of countries from all regions in support of gender equality and SRHR. And today, my South-African colleague will do the same.

Second, policy. We have to continue to translate our commitment to ICPD into effective and fully-funded policies that improve people’s lives. The Kingdom of the Netherlands will continue to do so, also worldwide. That’s why I annually budget 492 million euros for women’s rights, gender equality, SRHR and HIV/AIDS, including for advocacy by civil society organizations.  

Thirdly and finally, synergy. We can only successfully implement the ICPD agenda if we embed it into a broader, interconnected framework. Because ICPD is a human rights agenda – women’s rights are human rights. It’s also an economic growth agenda - the economic potential of half the population will remain largely untapped without effective family planning. And it is an SDG agenda. Many of these goals will only be met if we do everything we committed to 25 years ago at ICPD.

That’s why, in conclusion, I say: the road to 2030 leads through Cairo. And, thanks to this conference, through Nairobi as well. On we march. Thank you.