The 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) adopted a 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) with a broad mandate on interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, and advances in the education, economic status and empowerment of women. The year 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Cairo Conference. It is, therefore, necessary to reﬂ ect on the progress made, the challenges encountered and, based on these, to formulate strategic goals for ICPD’s agenda beyond.
Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries failed to use ICPD as a framework to build a sustainable architecture to protect and promote women’s rights. The social and economic upheaval that took place in the CEE region in the 1990s has brought declining socio-economic conditions and increasing inequity throughout the region, and in all CEE countries there is a huge gender gap in the economic activity rate. Decisionmaking and political power is ﬁ rmly held by men and not one of the seven countries surveyed for this report is even close to reaching the 30% quota of women’s political participation. This reﬂ ects the prevalence of deep-seated gender stereotypes that deﬁ ne women primarily as mothers and wives, assigning their role to the private sphere. Countries of the region are suffering a resurgence of patriarchal discourses and religious fundamentalisms which is reﬂ ected in setbacks with population and reproductive rights policies. In Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, and Russian Federation, there is a swing back towards pre-Cairo right-wing positions which limit people’s rights to make their own sexual and reproductive choices.