Taking a strong stand for girls’ rights in Nairobi

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Thousands of young people, gender advocates, policy-makers and government officials raised their voices emphatically for girls’ rights this week in Nairobi.

The ICPD25 summit energised the struggle for gender equality and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all girls and women.

In an environment of increasing hostility to allowing young women to control their lives and bodies the summit was a significant “pushback against the pushback”.

Attendees reaffirmed the original goals of the International Conference on Population and Development 25 years ago, which recognised that reproductive health, girls and women’s empowerment and gender equality are the pathway to sustainable development.

Government commitments included efforts to end the tens of millions of child marriages that still happen each year, to end unwanted teen pregnancy and child birth which is the leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-old girls globally, and to end female genital mutilation.


Plan International urges governments to fully endorse the summit’s Nairobi statement, which if fully implemented would end gender-based violence, ensure respect for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, and provide comprehensive information and services so young people can make informed choices about their own futures.

We commend the 55 states that publicly committed to support the Nairobi statement. The 55 are a progressive bloc who are at the vanguard of ensuring that girls have the control over their own bodies to which they are entitled.

And we urge states who oppose the goals and content of the Nairobi statement to listen more carefully to young people, who consistently tell us that their voices are not being heard in political discussions that have a direct impact on their bodies and choices.

“I have seen a lot of child mothers, so the challenge is real,” said Christine, 22, a community youth advocate in South Sudan. “My dream is that sexual and reproductive health and rights are included in the school curriculum so that girls have the information they need to take care of themselves.”