On the 6th of April 2017, the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) delivered an oral statement at the 50th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), which was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 3-7 April 2017. With the overall theme of “Changing population age structures and sustainable development”, ARROW delivered a statement that highlighted issues that arise from the dramatic shift in the population age distribution in Asia, and called for a rights-based, age-contextual actions that ensures human rights, gender equality, equal economic and developmental opportunities and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all.
Download the Oral Statement in PDF here.
Oral Statement: 50th Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD)
Beyond Numbers: Rights, Equality, and Justice at the Centre of Sustainable Development
ARROW and the undersigned 52 organisations welcome the 50th session’s theme. Changing population age structures impacts development opportunities, and need to be considered to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Asia is a home to sixty percent of the world’s population1 making what happens very important in determining the world’s present and future. The region’s demographic picture is complex: it simultaneously has the world’s largest number of people over 60, at 489 million, and the largest number of young people, at 670 million;3 Its population growth is slowing down,4 and is facing dramatic shifts in its population’s age distribution. In most of its countries, working age people will be or are already the majority of its population,3 even as the overall proportion of working-age population is already declining in some sub- regions.3 At the same time, the region is ageing rapidly,3 and the proportion of women in the aging population brackets is increasing. These trends pose significant challenges and potential opportunities that need to be anticipated and managed from a rights-based perspective.
The region faces deep inequalities across and within countries, with social exclusions and marginalisations marring human development and economic benefits enjoyed by a limited few. 772 million people still live on less than USD1.25 daily and a further 933 million more live on USD2 daily.5 The effects of increased migration, conflicts, food insecurity and malnutrition, climate change-induced disasters, and religious extremisms cannot be ignored either.
Progress on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has been mixed.7 Most population strategies in the Asia- Pacific region are still aimed at controlling fertility rather than having rights at its centre and focusing on the lifecycle. While the region’s average total fertility rate has gone down, a closer look reveals that in some countries, unmet need in contraception is still high, and women continue to carry the contraceptive burden. The largest number of maternal deaths outside of sub-Saharan Africa is in South Asia; unsafe abortion continues to be a major factor in maternal deaths. Gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, and sexual violence and violence against people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity remains entrenched. Young people lack access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and youth-friendly services, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual violence, and are exposed to harmful traditional practices such as child and early marriage and female genital mutilation. SRHR of older women are ignored. Mental health is woefully neglected including that of aging population.
The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD POA) remains the most comprehensive negotiated action document that considers many of these issues. At its 20-year- review, all governments agreed that the agenda should be continued until it is fully achieved. ICPD’s full implementation is more critical than ever to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
We call on Member States, international agencies, and UN entities to:
o Ensure that all people, throughout their life cycle, regardless of any grounds for discrimination and exclusion, have universal access to quality health care, education, decent work, housing, land, water, and other resources, food, and nutrition, amongst others.
o Ensure equality of women and girls, including in areas of education, employment, political participation, land and property ownership, and eradication of gender-based violence.
o Scale up public investment, both domestic and ODA, to guarantee SRHR, including universal access to quality, comprehensive SRH services and information. Provide rights-based, gender-
responsive, non-discriminatory, evidence-based, CSE in formal and non-formal educational systems, and in out-of-school and workplace settings.
o Ensure funding and an enabling environment for civil society as equal partners in development at all levels, especially those working for the rights of women, young people, and marginalised groups from the Global South.
We are committed to work with you towards a just, equal, and equitable world.
1 PRB. 2016 World Population Data Sheet. http://www.prb.org/Publications/DataSheets/2016/2016-world- population-data-sheet.aspx
2 UNDESA. World Population Prospects: Key Findings and Advance Tables: 2015 Revision.
3 UNDP. Asia-Pacific Human Development Report; Shaping the Future: How Changing Demographics
4 UNESCAP. 2016 ESCAP Population datasheet.
5 UNESCAP. Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2014. http://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/ESCAP-SYB2014.pdf
6 Sumner, Andy. 2011. Poverty in Middle Income Countries.
7 ARROW. Reclaiming and Redefining Rights: ICPD+20: Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Asia Pacific. 2013. http://arrow.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ICPD-20-Asia- Pacific_Monitoring-Report_2013.pdf
8 This includes the ICPD POA, the outcomes of review conferences, the Framework of Actions for the Follow-up to the Programme of Action of the ICPD beyond 2014, the Index Report, and the CPD session reports.