ASRO in collaboration with the International Islamic Centre for Population Studies and Research (IICPSR) at Al-Azhar University and under the auspices of the Grand Imam Prof. Dr. Ahmed Muhammad El-Tayeb, organized a two days forum for the FBOs from the Arab Region. In order to scale up the regional engagement on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs) ASRO has invited various women NGOs and media personalities from across the region.
“We recognized that the promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and the protection of reproductive rights, as well as addressing gender-based violence (GBV) are necessary not only to achieve social justice and ensure sound healthy life style but also to fulfill national and international commitments towards sustainable development, including the achievement of the international development agenda beyond 2015” affirmed Arab FBOs.
In his opening speech UNFPA Regional Director Mr. Abdel-Ahad emphasized the role of FBOs in rectifying misconceptions and communicating positive messages about SRHRs, which are intrinsically linked to the strategic positioning of the ICPD agenda beyond 2014 within forward-looking development agenda beyond 2015. Professor Gamal Abu El Serour a recipient of UNFPA Population Award and Director of IICPSR outlined the results of the ICPD Global review focusing on the Arab region. He also highlighted the importance of reaffirming support to the UNFPA innovative agenda reflected in the Cairo declaration 2013 which were endorsed by the Arab governments.
The participants of the forum succeeded in reaching consensus on a number of issues some of which were considered to be controversial such as sexuality education, early/child/forced marriage, early pregnancy, reproductive rights and GBV including prohibition of FGM. Moreover, the forum called upon Arab governments to adopt preventive and remedial measures to improve child health, reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and protect mothers against associated risks. Besides, developing health services and systems that including provision of family planning services, and supportive infrastructure and rectifying reproductive behaviors in accordance with the divine framework. Furthermore, the forum has called for age, gender and culture appropriate sexuality education.
The Arab FBOs called upon all FBOs and religious institutions in the region to be increasingly attentive and understanding of youth problems and their references, so as to develop programmes and messages that are responsive to their actual needs. “Arab governments, religious establishments and experts are encouraged to pay increasing attention to adolescents and youth reproductive health within the specified religious framework, since these age groups are most vulnerable to health risks, particularly HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases,” they urged.
Finally the FBOs agreed to establish a coordinating body to institutionalize their networking and communication and authorized the IICPSR, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and ASRO to establish this coordinating body.