November 12th to14th literally transformed the city of Nairobi and the world as over 9,000 heads of state, diplomats, civil society members, advocates, disabled, LGBTQ, ordinary and so many other people descended upon the Kenyatta International Convention Centre to make their voices heard and to add to the commitments that were made by world leaders from over 170 countries in line with gender equality, ending maternal deaths, ending GBV and so many more.
The summit took place twenty-five years after the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development where 179 governments called for advancing gender equality and securing sexual and reproductive health for all in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. The Nairobi summit aimed at renewing, re-energizing the vision of a community working together to act and deliver a world where every woman and girl enjoys their rights and bodies within the next ten years. The summit was co-convened by the government of Kenya and Denmark with UNFPA, with more than 1,200 commitments from around the world and billions of dollars in pledges from public and private sector partners. It also raised voices of the marginalized communities, youth and grassroots advocates, who were able to directly engage heads of states and policymakers about how to realize the rights and health of all people.
The summit commenced with a massive opening ceremony with over 6,000 people in attendance, many global big shots such as crown princess of Denmark Mary Elizabeth, Amina Jane Mohammed the deputy UN secretary general, Dr. Natalia Kanem the executive director of UNFPA, and hundreds of heads of states from all over the world.
This once in a life time summit was held to accelerate the commitments made in Cairo in 1994 as we come nearer to the end of the UN SDGs target time line. Many people agreed that a lot has been achieved since Cairo with child marriage, maternal deaths, family planning use and many other sexual reproductive health services and sectors showing great improvement but however these issues still exist and no woman or girl should have to suffer or die on their account.
The summit saw a great deal of expression and solidarity on key issues like gender based violence, lack of menstrual hygiene materials and disposal facilities, lack of proper information on family planning among others. This was an all-inclusive summit with numerous spaces for everybody because the aim of this summit was to collectively come up with solutions for a more gender equal world. Talks and panel discussions were happening at all levels but that was not the only way people expressed their opinions, concerns and recommendations, art, music, spoken word and poems were perhaps the most engaging sessions happening at the youth corner.
The commitments made after the three day event are to work as a road map to achieve a world where no woman dies while giving birth, every girl has menstrual materials at all times, no girl is married off as a child, gender based violence is a thing of the past and a world where every girl and women is free to choose what happens with her body and has a deciding role in the decisions and events of her life.
The take home for Uganda were the commitments made by our president, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, which included prioritizing universal access to all family planning methods thus reducing unmet needs for family planning by 10% by 2022, implementation of the national sexuality education framework, modernizing society to mention but a few.