THE EARTH TIMES
APRIL 18, 1994
PROGRESS AT PREPCOM
BY ASHALI VARMA
Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of the International Conference on Population and development, said Friday that she was especially pleased by the fact that two important chapters of the draft final document were approved by governments in the
first two weeks.
On Chapter 15 which deals with “Partnership with Non Governmental Groups” and focuses on strengthening the role of NGOs and ‘their networks at the local, national and international level, she said, “No other UN document has achieved such far reaching consensus to include NGOs.” She felt that governments have finally realized the importance of NGOs especially when it comes to implementation of programs at the grassroots level.
The link between NGO participation and the Chapter dealing with gender equality and empowerment of women which was also approved by governments was in Sadik’s view significant, since NGOs have played a decisive role in highlighting gender concerns. However, on the issue of abortion, Sadik said, “there is a great deal of misinformation on the Program of Action concerning abortion.” She added: “Nowhere in the document is abortion said to be legalized,” infact, Sadik said, the document recommends that countries should have stronger programs on’ contraception, counseling, education and reproductive rights.
Sadik said that the most surprising turn of events in the last two weeks was that some countries that were now supporting the Vatican and opposing sections of the draft document, had very active family planning programs at home. “This raises a question: How can countries that supported family planning and reproductive rights at the Mexico Conference and even agreed to many of the issues at regional conferences and are implementing them in their own program of action, now oppose the same issues? Obviously they have been strongly influenced,” she said.