Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Friday on the goals outlined at the 1995 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the conference. Clinton reviewed some of the progress that has been made since the Cairo conference but focused most of her speech (see video) on what must be done to move forward.
She asked the audience to “remember what was expected of us, [that] all governments will make access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services a basic right.” The following were among her remarks:
“We have made measurable progress since 1994 in improving the health and the lives of women and children, especially girls. For example, the use of modern contraceptives worldwide has increased from under 10 percent in the 1960s to 43 percent in 2008. We have greater access to neo-natal care, including medicines that prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child. We’ve significantly increased child survival rates. The number of girls enrolled in schools around the world has gone up… However, vast inequities remain…Nearly half the women in the developing world deliver their babies without a nurse, a midwife, a doctor, or access to crucial medical care. Global rates of maternal mortality remain perilously high; one woman dies every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth, and for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection, or disease every minute… More than 215 million women worldwide lack access to the modern forms of contraception, and this contributes to the nearly 20 million unsafe abortions that take place every year. Sexually transmitted diseases, of course including, but not limited to, HIV and AIDS, claim millions of lives annually among women. Fistula destroys the lives of millions, and it is often the result of pregnancies that occur when a girl is too young. An estimated 70 million– that is 70 million women and girls worldwide – have been subjected to female genital cutting… Investing in the health of women, adolescents, and girls is not only the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do. That is why we are integrating women’s issues as key elements of our foreign policy agenda.”
Clinton also outlined the goals and priorities of the Obama Administration. She said that they “are committed to meeting the Cairo goals” and “have pledged new funding, new programs, and a renewed commitment to achieve Millennium Development Goal Five, namely a [three-fourths] reduction in global maternal mortality, and universal access to reproductive healthcare.”