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Clark: Asian Women MPs Conference

Asian Women Parliamentarians and Ministers Conference

New Zealand advocates strongly for the international community to focus more attention on sexual and reproductive health and rights.


NZ Parliamentarians Group Conference
4th Asian Women Parliamentarians and Ministers Conference
Banquet Hall

It gives me great pleasure to address the 4th Asian and Pacific Women Parliamentarians and Ministers Conference. We are very pleased to host this conference in New Zealand.

Population and reproductive health rights are among the most sensitive issues which we must confront internationally. They are of fundamental and far-reaching significance. They are issues of human rights, and of social and economic development.

This is because men and women continue to be denied access to their reproductive health rights in many parts of the world.

The consequences are long-term population and reproductive health problems, such as gender inequality, high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, and of HIV/AIDS, as well as delayed social and economic development.

Given the difficulty we face in getting these issues addressed, the agreement forged at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 in Cairo is all the more remarkable.

The Cairo agreement committed countries to strive to make reproductive health care, in the context of the primary health-care system, available to all individuals of appropriate age, no later than the year 2015. New Zealand signed up to these goals.

New Zealand takes these issues very seriously. We are regarded internationally as an important advocate for and supporter of the International Conference on Population and Development goals and its plan of action.

At international conferences our commitment has been reaffirmed - such as at the Beijing 4th World Conference for Women, the UN Special Session on Children, the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development, and the 5th Asia and Pacific Population and Development Conference in Bangkok.

In 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, the New Zealand Government made supportive statements at the UN General Assembly and at the UN Population Fund Executive Board meeting. As well I endorsed the World Leaders' statement supporting the International Conference on Population and Development.

New Zealand advocates strongly for the international community to focus more attention on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Recently we called for the full integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the UN World Summit outcomes document.

That was achieved through agreement at the Summit to establish a monitoring framework which includes sexual and reproductive health targets.

The New Zealand Government's engagement in the International Conference on Population and Development is managed through partnerships with NGOs, partner governments, and multilateral organisations.

These partnerships enable us to honour the commitment made at Cairo in 1994 by placing a high priority on the right to sexual and reproductive health, services to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, education for all, and gender equality.

New Zealand also funds programmes with our development partners which educate and empower people, especially women. We seek to increase choices and access to maternal and child health care, and to sexual and reproductive health services, and increase people's ability to protect themselves from and, if necessary live with, HIV/AIDS.

New Zealand remains a strong supporter of the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. We are providing an increasing amount of resources to both these international population agencies (in 2005 over NZ$6million to UNFPA and NZ$1.3M to IPPF).

These are important world issues and I look forward to the outcomes of the conference adding to the work already being done in this area.

Thank you.


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