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THE CAIRO CONFERENCE

The International Conference on Population and Development 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. During the course of the Conference, delegates reached agreement on the 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, combating 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."

The Programme of Action includes: a shift from the previous emphasis on demography and population control to sustainable development and the recognition of the need for comprehensive reproductive health care and reproductive rights; strong language on the empowerment of women; reflection of different values and religious beliefs; reaffirmation of the central role of the family; and recognition of the needs of adolescents.

The Programme of Action contains the following chapters: I. Preamble; II. Principles; III. Interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development; IV. Gender equality, equity and empowerment of women; V. The family, its roles, rights, composition and structure; VI. Population growth and structure; VII. Reproductive rights and reproductive health; VIII. Health, morbidity and mortality; IX. Population distribution, urbanization and internal migration; X. International migration; XI. Population, development and education; XII. Technology, research and development; XIII. National action; XIV. International cooperation; XV. Partnership with the non-governmental sector; and XVI. Follow-up to the Conference.

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