Population, development and individual welfare are closely interrelated, as recognised by the ICPD – the International Conference on Population and Development – better known as the Cairo Programme of Action. The Programme of Action concentrates on relationships between populations, population growth, economic growth, sustainable development, gender equality, empowerment of women, as well as migration and urbanisation - with a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Cairo's progressive agenda Reproductive health and rights, empowerment of women and gender equality are deemed fundamental parts of population and development programmes in the Cairo Action Plan. Notwithstanding the fact that the United Nations have implemented an international population policy for quite some time, the approach to population control, in which decisions on people’s health and reproduction all too often came from above, was changed in 1994 to a rights based approach to population and development. As a result the emphasis shifted to the individual needs and rights of men and women.
Sustainable development Voluntary, rights based family planning linked to accessible contraception enables couples to opt for smaller families. Children (and their parents) have a better chance of living healthier lives and having access to education and development in smaller family groups. This in turn promotes more balanced population growth and reduces the burden on our planet.
In charge of their own destiny The Cairo approach enables men and women to determine their own family planning and sexuality. Empowerment of women is a significant factor because inequality between men and women is one of the main obstacles preventing the implementation of this right to self-determination. The Cairo Action Plan, therefore, also wants to actively involve boys and men in sexual and reproductive health programmes.