The following is excerpts of the statement made by the Eritrean delegation at the just concluded United Nations coordinated 25th International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Summit, in Nairobi.
In 1994, when International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was held in Cairo, Eritrea crafted its National Charter while celebrating its 1st de jure independence. In that Charter, it was clearly stated that; “the issue of women is a major social issue and a society that doesn’t respect the rights and equality of women cannot be truly considered liberated”. Hence, it funneled its financial wherewithal, including international support, to achieve these noble objectives.
In this respect, the Government of Eritrea (GOE) made education free for all; from elementary to tertiary level; increased number of schools from just 132 to 1987; NER [net enrollment ration] in elementary school from 30% to 83.2%; in middle school from 6% to 48%. This was done with the objective of enhancing girls’ participation, retention and performance in education.
Eritrea has made healthcare services almost free with access to health care within 10 km radius for 80% and 5 km radius for 60% of the population. In the same period, Maternal Mortality Rate was reduced by 74%, and, Neonatal Mortality by 73%.
Eritrea is thus embarking on the SDG era having achieved all three Health MDGs. Life expectancy has increased from 47 to 66 years in the post-independence period.
FGM/C has been forbidden and made punishable by law since 2007. This, coupled with regular awareness campaigns, has created encouraging sign towards eliminating it.
These achievements and the challenges ahead are good reasons for Eritrea to march to Nairobi with confidence to finish the unfulfilled job in the near future.
Hence, Eritrea will commit:
1) To make preventable maternal mortality and morbidities ZERO by 2022. In doing so, it will further reformulate its existing UHC strategies, policies and programs to address the necessary sexual and reproductive health interventions. This will guarantee and ensure every individual’s right to bodily integrity, autonomy and reproductive rights.
2) To create access for all adolescents and youth, especially girls, to comprehensive and age-responsive information, education and friendly quality and timely services. This will enable them to make free and informed decisions and choices about their sexuality and reproductive lives, such as, unintended pregnancies, all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices, and, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
3) Eritrea will strive for, ZERO Sexual and Gender-based Violence and harmful practices, including ZERO child, early and forced marriage, as well as ZERO female genital mutilation.
4) Eritrea will commit to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, in order to realize their full socio-economic potential.
ERITREA is considered one of the most repressive and secretive states on earth. The UN says forced labour and detention without trial are common.
There have been no elections in the country since independence in 1993 and President Isaias Afewerki has been in power for almost 22 years. Political opponents and journalists have been imprisoned for voicing dissent.