Statement by the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), a non- governmental organisation in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council at the 49th Session of the Commission on Population and Development
11 – 15 April 2016
ARROW, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a regional, partnership based, non-governmental organisation that has been working since 1993 to advance women and young people’s health and rights, particularly in the area of sexuality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the Asia Pacific region and the regions of Global South.
We welcome the focus on the theme for this 49th session- strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda and the methods of work of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). In line with this theme, we reiterate the prominence of the General Assembly resolutions, 65/234, and 70/1, as important mandates in the realisation of universal access to SRHR for all.
Twenty years have passed since the Programme of Action (PoA) of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights by all, especially women, young people, and LGBTIQ people, is increasingly under threat, with predominantly regressive trends in SRHR policy and programme implementation in the countries of Asia-Pacific region.
With more than 4.4 billion people living in the region and changing population age structures pointing to an increase in the proportion of young population, and older persons, this calls for specific policy and programmatic interventions for these groups. This region also faces most inequalities within countries and in between countries in terms of access to basic health care services, education and information.
Overall fertility in the region is at replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, however there is an increasing proportion of women who either have more children than they want, who want to stop or delay child bearing, and have no means to exercise their reproductive rights. High unmet need for contraception and resulting consequences of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality and morbidity is more common among marginalised groups of women. More than 1 in 4 women aged 20-24 continue to get married before they turn 18, especially in Southern Asia. High adolescent birth rates, child early and forced marriages, other harmful traditional practices, is increasing young women and girls risk to mortality and morbidity related to sexual and reproductive health.
Violations of the right to universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, is exacerbated by the intersections of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, migration, conflict, disasters, climate change and religious extremisms. The face of migration in the region is increasingly seen as young and female. Another trend that we see in the region is the concentration of people living in urban areas. Urban settlements are projected to rise to 56% of Asia’s population.
To date, the ICPD PoA is the only action document that takes a holistic approach to population and development issues and sustainable development. It defines and recommends actions on the inter- relationships of population, development strategies, education, health, technology, research and development, population growth and structures, migration, urbanisation, environment, partnerships and international cooperation in a rights based approach, which is critical to address the needs of diverse demographics in the region. The full implementation of ICPD POA is more than ever critical to the achievement of SDG Agenda 2030.
In the area of strengthening demographic evidence, we call upon the States and the international community to:
a) Uphold the political and financial commitment to the full implementation of ICPD PoA and the SRHR related goals and targets of Agenda 2030.
b) Integrate human rights obligations, including and principles of equality, non-discrimination, on the basis of gender equality, and equity in the implementation of ICPD PoA at the global, regional and national levels.
c) Strengthen the demographic evidence base, to support the monitoring of ICPD and the SDG Agenda 2030, through establishment of functional data instruments such as the civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, census, and household surveys at the national level. Further to this take into account advances and innovations in Information, and Communication Technology.
d) Put in place human rights based data collection, and safeguard processes, that will address the human rights risks in collection, processing, analysing and dissemination of data. This is to ensure the protection of the rights of certain vulnerable populations. Capacity strengthening of NSOs in this area will be crucial.
e) Ensure clear levels of data disaggregation in the review and monitoring of SRHR indicators and the ICPD agenda
f) Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services including access to a full range of contraceptive methods, safe abortion services, counselling, quality treatment including empathetic and trained health service providers, and comprehensive sexuality education for young people without stigma, discrimination and violence.
g) Address the intersectional issues of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, internal and external migration, conflict, disasters, climate change and counter religious extremism to ensure universal access to SRHR for all.
In the area of Methods of Work of CPD, We call upon the States and the international community to:
h) Ensure the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) continues to play a primary role in advising the council on population and development issues; monitoring, review and assessment of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the ICPD, the key actions for its further implementation and outcomes of its review conferences, as well as the previous resolutions adopted by the CPD, and the SRHR related SDG goals and targets of the Agenda 2030 at global, regional and national level.
j) Upgrade the Commission to enable it to work on the SDGs in order to make its work strategic and relevant
k) Expand the commission to include more member states so that discussions are representative and inclusive of the work of all member states”
l) Ensure a process whereby, there is an alignment of themes for CPD in line with the Agenda 2030 review theme at HLPF. This may call for a priority theme set forth in the multiyear programme by the council.
m) Institutionalise a High level Ministerial Segment during CPD sessions on issues of population and development.
n) Include in the CPD sessions, a reporting mechanism where, Member States present progress, gaps, challenges and best practices on the priority theme.
o) We call for a negotiated outcome document at every CPD with clear actions and recommendations that will take into account emerging issues and recommendation on the priority theme to remain action oriented and policy relevant.
p) We call for the full and active participation of civil society in all the processes relating to CPD, including submission of written and oral statements, and all other processes as experts, in the national delegations, including participation at the regional commissions.
1. ESCAP. 2013. Factsheet: Population trends in Asia and the Pacific. retrieved from
2. United Nations. 2015. World Population Prospects The 2015 Revision Key Findings and
Advance Tables. Retrieved from
3. United Nations Economic and Social Council. 2016. World Demographic Trend, Report of
Secretary General. Retrieved from
4. United Nations Economic and Social Council. 2016. Strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda. Report of the Secretary-General. Retrieved from
5. United Nations Economic and Social Council. 2016. Future organization and methods of work
of the Commission on Population and Development. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/commission/sessions/2016/index.shtml
This statement is endorsed by: