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"An atmosphere of hope during the Nairobi summit"

This November, the Nairobi Summit took place in Kenya. Young advocate, Ligia DeStephen from Honduras attended, as part of our Right Here Right Now (RHRN) programme. Ligia looks back at an inspirational experience in Nairobi, and will continue to hold her government to account for the commitments it made during the Summit.

Taking lessons back to Honduras

“One of the biggest challenges is having the necessary budget to implement the commitments and make the efforts human rights-based”, reflects Ligia.

“The Honduras Government committed to reduce maternal mortality through increasing its efforts for universal access to basic sexual and reproductive health services, strategies to promote family planning and by continuing the prevention of adolescent pregnancies. I hope this will be done in a comprehensive and rights-based way.”

“Although there was an atmosphere of hope during the Nairobi summit, there is a lot of work left to do. Countries made their commitments, and some signed the global statement, but the Summit is not binding on governments. It is up to us, civil society, to hold government accountable and track their reporting at the Commission on Population and Development, and when discussing the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Localizing ICPD commitments

Our RHRN partnership hosted an official event on local best practices to ensure young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Here, five advocates from three regions addressed the obstacles young people face in several countries and their need for accessible and inclusive services. 

“Our colleagues focused on the need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education and SRH-services free of stigma. From the audience you could see that these are challenges across the globe’’, reflects Ligia. 

Supporting and celebrating the LGBTI movement

Whilst acknowledging the incredible progress which has been made since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, it is clear that there is still a long way to go to fully realise the Programme of Action for all, recognising in particular that young people and LGBTQI persons are often left the furthest behind. RHRN hosted a reception (safe space) with the Dutch Embassy in Kenya where LGBTQI advocates, UN agencies and supportive governments came together to celebrate successes in the advancement of these fundamental rights and to discuss strategies for making a more inclusive ICPD+25 agenda. Amongst others, the High Commission for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet; the Minister for Children and Youth affairs of Ireland, Katherine Zappone; and, the Dutch Ambassador, Frans Makken spoke at the reception, which was moderated by RHRN advocates.


The year 2019 focused on the review and appraisal of the ICPD Programme of Action, a ground-breaking agenda that was signed 25 years ago. The Nairobi Summit is a high-level conference to mobilize the political will and financial commitments urgently needed to finally and fully implement the ICPD PoA. Governments made national commitments and signed a global statement to accelerate implementation. By signing this statement countries agree on accelerated action to promote, defend and advance SRHR, including access to safe abortion to the full extent of the law. 

Committing to improve the SRHR of young people

Evi van den Dungen, Advocacy Officer at Rutgers, also attended the summit, where she advocated for a progressive global statement and ensured advocates from RHRN were equipped to lobby their governments. 

“The summit was a success, as the good atmosphere resulted in detailed commitments on the national level and the ICPD’s unfinished business prioritized by countries. As civil society, we now need to be sharp and pinpoint governments to their commitments’’, Evi reflected.

Rutgers contributed in making the Nairobi Summit a success by advocating alongside its key southern partners and by making its own commitments to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. 

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