By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – A summit on population and development kicked off in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Tuesday, with world leaders and delegates focused on how to end violence against women and child marriages.
Hosted by the UN Population Fund and the governments of Kenya and Denmark, the International Conference on Population and Development brought together over 7,000 delegates from 164 countries, including heads of state, government officials, lawmakers, and NGO representatives, among others.
Opening the three-day summit, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “I really do believe the reason so many of us have convened in Nairobi is because we recognize that advancing people’s rights, in particular, women’s rights, their choices and their well-being, is the path to prosperous and resilient societies. Indeed, it has often been said, ‘Women are the backbone of the family and the bedrock of a nation’.”
Kenyatta’s sentiments were echoed by other world leaders attending the summit, with many stressing the value of investing in women and girls.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni called for a push in African states to ensure no woman dies for want of reproductive care.
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark told the gathering, “We cannot return to a time when women had little say on reproductive issues, we are paving the way for a more just and prosperous future,” sentiments that were echoed by Rasmus Prehn, the Danish minister for development.
Among priority actions, the world leaders focused on how to boost access to secondary and tertiary education for boys and girls, accelerating the reduction in maternal deaths, eliminating female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriages, and ending violence against women and girls.
Kenyatta called for a commitment to accelerate women’s equal participation and equitable representation at all levels of the political, public, and corporate spheres.