By Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo, Founder/Exec. Director, WFAC Cameroon
On 22nd September 2014, over 193 Member States of the United Nations, along with members of community service organisations (CSOs), academia, researchers, and private sectors, gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York for the 69th General Assembly and a special session on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and recommendations on sustainable development goals.
Relevance to Cameroon - Linkage Between Post-2015, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Cameroon’s Vision 2035
Explaining the Terms
Cameroon Vision 2035 is a national development strategic framework established in 2009.
The main objective is to make Cameroon an emerging country by 2035, with the specific objectives being to:
eradicate poverty, become a middle-income country, become a newly industrialized country, and become an emerging country in a global economy.
The term “sexual and reproductive health and rights" (SRHR) was explored nearly 20 years ago at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing.
Five reasons why Cameroon should prioritize the inclusion of gender equality and youth SRHR in the Post-2015 development framework
Following on from the meeting of world leaders at this event, it is important that Cameroonians understand the linkage between Post-2015 and Cameroon’s Vision 2035 and why it is imperative that the Cameroon government, among others, supports young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexuality education, gender equality, and investment in youth capacities and leadership.
1. Post-2015 and Vision 2035 agenda are development oriented and human-rights focused
Both Post-2015 and Vision 2035 are development agendas that address key human issues, particularly gender equality, poverty alleviation, social justice, freedom of choice, youth leadership, women’s economic empowerment, and sustainable development.
The statistics tell us that women and young people make up around 60% of the country’s population. Without adequate measure to ensure that their human rights are fully protected, respected, and promoted, the states will miss the chance to reap these contributions to development.
Positioning and prioritising youth issues into Post-2015 leads to the advancement of the Vision 2035 agenda, the achievement of international human rights, and the enablement of youth participation along the path to national growth, peace, and security. Therefore, it is prudent for the government to take advantage of the post2015 development framework, for its realisation directly affects the well-being of everyone.
2. Access to sexual and reproductive health information is a Vision 2035 goal
Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are essential elements in fostering sustainable development. Millions of people, especially young people and adolescent girls, are vulnerable to domestic and gender-based violence. They continue to lack adequate and reliable access to comprehensive sexuality information and education. Many are exposed to various untreated sexual and reproductive tract infections, which could be treated and/or prevented at early stages.
Placing prevention and inclusive healthcare services and reliable information about people’s sexuality at the core of the post2015 deliberation is critical. By prioritising health, it also ensures healthy contributions towards advancing the realisation of Vision 2035.
3. Investing in adolescents and youth as drivers of Cameroon’s Vision 2035
Two thirds of the country’s population are persons between the ages of 14 to 24. We have all been told time and again that the key drivers of change in any country are its young people. Sadly, in Cameroon, many raw and inert skills have not been fully developed and leveraged. Cameroon still depends largely on foreign expertise for development while it has reservoirs of untapped knowledge, which would meaningfully contribute to the development of this country if fostered.
Cameroon cannot consider becoming an emerging economy without significant contributions of those who constitute over half of its population. Investing in youth is a wise thing to do as a nation. It has an exponential impact on the growth and development of society.
4. Gender equality and women’s rights matter for development
Gender equality must matter at all levels and stages of the post2015 deliberations. There is no doubt that a society with greater gender equality achieves better health and development for its people.
Improving gender equality means ensuring quality education for all, especially girls; eliminating systemic forms of violence against women and girls; promoting women’s economic empowerment; improving access to comprehensive sexuality education; encouraging youth participation and leadership; and increasing contributions to environmental sustainability.
Becoming an emerging nation by 2035 requires laying strong gender equality foundations now, which Cameroon must support and prioritize in the post2015 development framework.
5. Transparency, accountability, and good governance
Cameroon’s Vision 2035 calls for an emerging, democratic, and united country in diversity by 2035. One thing is for sure: Democracy comes with governmental accountability and transparency. The Post-2015 development framework clearly articulates the need for states’ accountability to the people.
Because states’ issues are also citizens’ concerns, the people must be involved in and informed of all governance matters.
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Interestingly, both frameworks - Post-2015 and Vision 2035 - will be expiring almost within the same period. This therefore provides Cameroon a better ground to create impacts. Since both programs will be run simultaneously, it is easier to identify lapses and re-ameliorate for positive change.