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The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) took place in Cairo in 1994. 179 world leaders reached a consensus and adopted a Programme of Action, which enshrined individual reproductive rights as a basic human right. For the first time, the ICPD shifted the focus from demo-graphic targets to human lives. Leaders promised universal access to reproductive health services and information, and vowed to reduce maternal deaths and end gender-based violence. The ICPD agenda also recognized women empowerment as a prerequisite for sustainable development and called upon governments to invest in young people, end poverty, and protect migrants and displaced people.

25 years later, the Arab states region has made progress in reaching those goals. Maternal deaths dropped by 43 per cent. There is better data on gender-based violence, which is a precondition to act against it effectively. Child marriage dropped by 9 per cent and more women than ever can find and use family planning services and take control of their futures.
Today, in the Arab states region, the ICPD agenda has never been more important, and the challenges standing in the way of fulfilling that agenda have never been more complex. Compared to 25 years ago, the region is much younger, more mobile and more unequal.

This year, world leaders, including leaders from the Arab region will come together again in the Nairo-bi Summit on ICPD25 on 12-14 November to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ICPD and to renew their commitment to the ICPD commitment to human-centric, rights-based sustainable development.