African parliamentarians pledge support to harness the demographic dividend for the development of the continent

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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF PARLIAMENTARY NETWORKS ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE THEME DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND AND AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT NOVEMBER 24 TO 26, 2016, DAKAR, SENEGAL

A joint initiative of the Senegalese Parliamentary Network on Population and Development and of the Africa Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), the International Conference of Parliamentary Networks on Population and Development on the theme “ Demographic Dividend and Africa’s Development” took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar, from November 24 to 26, 2016. The Dakar Declaration, on African Parliamentarians’ commitment on the implementation of the African Union’s 2017 Roadmap on the demographic dividend was adopted, with a proposed action plan.

Organized with technical and financial support from UNFPA, IPPF, Japan’s ODA, the United Kingdom DFID, USAID, the International Social Service, and the French Muskoka Fund, the Conference of Dakar marks a crucial milestone in the advocacy process and political dialogues in preparation for the two African Union Summits scheduled in 2017, on the theme “Harnessing demographic dividend through investments in the youth”.

The conference was preceded by the General Assembly of the FPA, held on November 24, during which a new executive committee was elected with Honorable Marie Rose Nguini Effa, from Cameroon, voted as its new Chair. At the General Assembly, Mr. Lucien Kouakou, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Regional Director, highlighted the importance of the voice and efforts of Parliamentarians in efforts to harness the demographic dividend. Abdou Mbow, vice President of the Senegal National Assembly, assured of Senegal’s readiness to support the initiatives of the FPA to turn Africa’s phenomenal youth bulge into a capital for development. The closing of the General Assembly followed after unanimous adoption of the draft Dakar Declaration.

The conference was officially opened by Honorable Awa Guèye, 2 nd vice President of the National Assembly of Senegal, on behalf of His Excellency Honorable Moustapha Niasse, President of the National Assembly of Senegal, and closed by Honorable Moustapha Cissé Lô, 1 st vice President of the National Assembly of Senegal. The opening ceremony was held in the presence of Mr. Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of UNFPA West and Central Africa Region, Mr. Lucien Kouakou, Regional Director of IPPF Africa Regional Office, Honorable Marie Rose Nguini Effa, Chair of the FPA, Honorable Mously Diakhaté, President of the Senegalese Parliamentary Network on Population and Development, and the vice Presidents of the National Assembly of Benin and Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of UNFPA West and Central Africa Region, drew attention to the advocacy and political dialogue efforts undertaken through UNFPA, with the African Union, to mobilize stakeholders and conduct consultations with youth and women organizations, civil society organizations, religious leaders, the scientific community, technical and financial partners for development, and UN agencies. The process also involved working closely with key opinion leaders and national policy-makers, the Africa Parliamentary Forum, the World Economic Forum, financial institutions (African Development Bank, World Bank), international, regional and sub-regional organizations, heads of States and Governments, and of course, parliamentarians.

The two-day plenary sessions and thematic commissions brought together over one hundred participants, from 40 countries, to consider various issues related to the demographic dividend (education, health, employment, youth and women empowerment) and to draft a joint Action Plan in the form of a strategic framework to firm up the contribution of African governments to fully harness the demographic dividend for the development of Africa and set in motion the policies outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063.

The Africa Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development reaffirmed, in Dakar, its commitment in ensuring that efforts will be pursued to continue implementing the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action. African parliamentarians pledged support to harness the demographic dividend for the development of the continent through the Dakar Declaration, which commits to:

– Develop, strengthen and implement appropriate legislation, support national policies and programs which prioritizes voluntary family planning and address all barriers of access and use of contraception such as the availability of reproductive health commodities and supplies to eliminate unplanned pregnancies and reduce fertility;

– Repeal laws and policies that inhibit women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment; hence enact enforceable laws that protects women and support survivors against all forms of discrimination and inhumane treatment such as sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation;

– Propose and advocate laws to increase budgetary allocations to adequately finance universal access to comprehensive, quality and integrated sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services that respond to the needs of adolescents, youth, and the wellbeing of vulnerable groups including persons with disability ;

– Support our countries to ensure the effective and full implementation of continental and global level instruments such as the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development, AU Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by ensuring robust monitoring and accountability frameworks that are adhered to by each of our countries;

– Propose and advocate legislation to ensure provision of age-appropriate and gender-sensitive, rights-based comprehensive sexuality education for all young people, particularly adolescent girls, as a way of reducing their vulnerability to adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and ensuring their empowerment;

– Propose and advocate laws to reform the education system and focus on innovation, skills development, science, technology and entrepreneurship;

– Propose and advocate laws that allow and encourage women to participate in the political sphere, particularly at policy and decision-making levels;

– Propose and advocate legislation related to economic reforms that would create more quality jobs and enhance innovation and productivity of the informal sector, which is the biggest employer of youth and women;

– Monitor program implementation and accountability in the use of public resources;

– Ratify and domesticate International/legal instruments and policy frameworks such as the African Youth Charter and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and;

– Promote and initiate partnerships among population and development networks of parliamentarians worldwide and particularly south-south cooperation to address population and development challenges.

Note to editors

AFRICA PARLIAMENTARY FORUM ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT – FPA

Launched in December 2012, the aim of the FPA is to ensure parliaments assist in implementing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Agenda 2014 and Beyond by adopting initiatives in population policies and harmonization of African legislation on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND – UNFPA

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives. Since UNFPA started working in 1969, the number – and rate – of women dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth has been halved. Families are smaller and healthier. Young people are more connected and empowered than ever before.

INTERNATIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION – IPPF

Founded in 1952, the IPPF is a global non-governmental organization with the broad aims of promoting sexual and reproductive health, and advocating sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, especially the under-served.

SENEGALESE PARLIAMENTARY NETWORK ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT

Founded following the organization of the ICPD 1994, on the initiative of a small group of Members of Parliament supported by UNFPA, the initial objective of the RSPPD was to take on conclusions and recommendations of the ICPD in regard to Parliamentarian matters. It works to tackle major and urgent development issues and / or problems for the well-being of populations. It is also under the impetus of this network that most Networks in Population and Development of the countries of West and Central Africa were started.

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