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Parliamentarians on 'world we want beyond 2015': Sexual and reproductive health and rights in focus

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Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS

World we want beyond 2015
World we want beyond 2015
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(CNS): The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are a new, universal set of 17 proposed goals, with 169 targets that 193 countries (who are members of the UN) will be expected to use to frame their post-2015 development agendas and policies over the next 15 years, once the MDGs expire at the end of this year.

If the countries agree with the draft set of SDGs at the UN summit in New York in coming September, they will become applicable from January 2016. Partnering with, and empowering parliamentarians, who play an important role in the development process by framing policies/ laws implemented in the country, can effectively influence the building of post-2015 development framework and also develop government accountability to these goals. Even Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, has said that, "Parliaments will play a central role in shaping and implementing our new agenda."

Keeping this in mind, the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) and Indian Association of Parliamentarians for Population and Development (IAPPD) recently organized a one day consultative meeting with Parliamentarians and other key stakeholders in New Delhi. The objectives of this consultation were to initiate a dialogue with Parliamentarians and other key stakeholders in articulating the Post-2015 development agenda with special focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and work with the MPs and key influencers to establish a mechanism for initiating action on the SDGs at country level, ensuring greater ownership and accountability.

Parliamentarians' Speak

All the 12 odd MPs present agreed that making Parliamentarians aware of the post 2015 global development agenda is very important as MPs are a link between people and the government and hence an important component in setting national goals/ policies and achieving them. This is what some of them had to say:

Professor PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, set the ball rolling. He said-- "SDGs are the Bible of development for all countries. They are more comprehensive and inclusive than MDGs. But population stabilization should also find a specific place in them. In India, unless there is frontal attack on our exponential population growth we will not be able to achieve SDGs. Sex education needs to be introduced in schools."

Second parliamentarian said: "SDGs are a sequel to MDGs. SDGs have to percolate to local levels. Population growth is nullifying economic growth. Explosion of population is in poor families. So special targets must be there for poor sections of society. We have to think global but act local."

Third parliamentarian said: "Male participation in family planning is very low-- less than 1%. Despite a very large adolescent population, there is no education for adolescents on sexual and reproductive health (SRH). We will have to increase our budgetary allocations for health and curb corruption that siphons off funds. Education and awareness of the masses must increase to increase people's participation. Unless we engage the whole community we cannot sustain any development."

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