The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 5 to 13 September 1994. Delegations from 179 States took part in negotiations to finalize a Programme of Action on population and development for the next 20 years. Some 20,000 delegates from various governments, UN agencies, NGOs, and the media gathered for a discussion of a variety of population issues, including immigration, infant mortality, birth control, family planning, and the education of women.
The ICPD Program of Action endorses a new strategy which emphasizes the numerous linkages between population and development and focuses on meeting the needs of individual women and men rather than on achieving demographic targets. The ICPD achieved consensus on four qualitative and quantitative goals for the international community, the final two of which have particular relevance for reproductive health:
- Reduction of maternal mortality: A reduction of maternal mortality rates and a narrowing of disparities in maternal mortality within countries and between geographical regions, socio-economic and ethnic groups.
- Access to reproductive and sexual health services including family planning: Family planning counseling, pre-natal care, safe delivery and post-natal care, prevention and appropriate treatment of infertility, prevention of abortion and the management of the consequences of abortion, treatment of reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive health conditions; and education, counseling, as appropriate, on human sexuality, reproductive health and responsible parenthood. Services regarding HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, infertility, delivery and abortion should be made available. Active discouragement of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Key to this new approach is empowering women and providing them with more choices through expanded access to education and health services and promoting skill development and employment. The Programme advocates making family planning universally available by 2015, or sooner, as part of a broadened approach to reproductive health and rights, provides estimates of the levels of national resources and international assistance that will be required, and calls on Governments to make these resources available.