In a city known for both its history and its burgeoning population, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) met in Cairo, Egypt, from 5-13 September 1994. An estimated 20,000 government delegates, UN representatives, NGOs and media representatives descended on Cairo for the nine- day Conference and the parallel NGO Forum. Although the issue of abortion proved to receive most of the media attention, Conference participants also addressed a number of important, and often controversial, issues including immigration policy, reproductive health and reproductive rights, the empowerment of women, urbanization and access to healthcare.
During the course of the Conference, delegates negotiated a sixteen-chapter Programme of Action that sets out a series of recommended actions on population and development, including those that lead to sustained economic growth within the context of sustainable development, protection of the integrity of the family, combatting HIV/AIDS, protecting the health of adolescents, and closing the gender gap in education. The negotiations were not easy and there were times when it appeared as though consensus would be impossible on such controversial issues as abortion, sexual and reproductive health, family reunification and the definition of the family. Yet, by the time the last chapter was adopted and the last speech was given, thousands of weary delegates, observers and NGOs agreed that in spite of some difficult moments, the Conference was a success and the Programme of Action, compared with earlier documents on population and development, represents a "quantum leap."