Jacada Awarded ISV Partner of the Year by Leading Cloud Contact Center Provider Five9

ATLANTA, Nov. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Five9, Inc. (FIVN), the leading provider of the intelligent cloud contact center, recently announced that Jacada was awarded the ISV Partner of the Year for 2019. The award was presented by Dan Burkland, Five9 President, to Jacada at the inaugural Five9 Partner Awards at their annual CX Summit. These awards recognize standout ecosystem partners that are committed to delivering extraordinary customer experiences and consistent results to their mutual customers. Jacada's Customer Service RPA platform delivers end–to–end customer service automation to Five9 clients by providing seamless intelligent automation solutions to enhance the customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX).

Over the last 18 months, the Five9 and Jacada partnership has garnered praise inside and out of the organizations. "Five9 is proud to have aligned automation experts like Jacada who share our commitment to enhancing the CCaaS space and creating exceptional customer experiences," states Dan Burkland, Five9 President. "Jacada's ability to effortlessly integrate with our platform in addition to a multitude of legacy client applications delivers real value to organizations by simplifying their contact center journey to the cloud."

Customers echo the sentiment for unified automation and employee experiences. "Working with Jacada within the Five9 partner ecosystem has allowed us to deliver a powerful employee experience that in turn enables Boscov's to provide exceptional customer experiences," states Dean Sheaffer, Senior Vice President & COO, Boscov's, Inc.

Five9 customers have full access to the #1 Platform for Human and Robot Collaboration through Jacada for both intelligent self–service and agent engagement. These cloud–based solutions help organizations drive digital adoption with guided customer interactions and help contact centers battle complexity with AI and RPA.

For more details, including video demonstrations of Jacada's Smart Solutions, visit jacada.com. For inquiries, contact Matthew at mstorm@jacada.com.

About Five9

Five9 is a leading provider of cloud contact center software for the intelligent contact center space, bringing the power of cloud innovation to customers and facilitating more than five billion call minutes annually. Five9 provides end–to–end solutions with omnichannel routing, analytics, WFO and AI to increase agent productivity and deliver tangible business results. The Five9 Genius platform is reliable, secure, compliant and scalable; designed to create exceptional personalized customer experiences.

For more information, visit www.five9.com.


Jacada is the global leader in customer service automation with over three decades of experience automating end–to–end customer interactions for enterprise clients. Using a #CollaborationFirst approach to automation, Jacada's solutions bring together rich UX design, real–time guidance and intelligent automation capabilities powered by customer service RPA to create truly collaborative experiences between customers, employees and robots within a single low–code automation and AI hub.


Matthew Storm
Corporate Communications, Jacada

Rochelle Sikhovski
Digital Marketing Manager, Jacada

Fortem Technologies Announces Global Expansion to the MENA Region

Pleasant Grove, UT and Abu Dhabi, Nov. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Fortem Technologies, a leading provider of airspace awareness, safety and security solutions for a drone world, announced today that it has added to its global presence with new offices in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi region. The growing team will be led by tech and security veteran, Malek Akilie.

Akilie will oversee Fortem Technologies' growth and operations in the Middle East and North Africa. Based in the Gulf Region since 1999, Malek has been a leader in the telecom, intelligence and national security sectors for over 25 years.

Mr. Akilie was raised in the UK and Canada and served as a weapons specialist in the Canadian Navy prior to completing a four year program at the University of Western Ontario in economics and commerce. He then worked in Silicon Valley at Cisco Systems, NetApp, SS8 Networks and several VC backed startups including Lightpointe, Bivio Networks and UK defense contractor Digital Barriers.

"Fortem is proud to announce our rapid expansion in the Middle East and North Africa and we are thrilled that Malek Akilie has joined the company to extend Fortem's Global reach to defend and protect vulnerable critical infrastructure assets across the region," said Timothy Bean, Fortem Technologies CEO. "Malek brings a unique understanding of the Gulf Region and the threats posed by a complex and rapidly evolving drone world; he is a trusted advisor to our partners and customers."

"I am truly excited to be part of such a game changing technology in digital air space awareness and counter drone C–UAV defense for both national security and civil aviation purposes. Fortem is truly unique in the industry and is helping make the world safer from dangerous drone attacks, airport service disruptions and privacy violations."

Fortem Technologies recently won the "Innovative Security Product of the Year" from Future Security Awards 2019, an award that recognizes the best security minds and projects in the Middle East. Fortem's new Abu Dhabi headquarters are co–located with key investors, Mubadala at Hub71.

About Fortem Technologies, Inc.

Fortem Technologies is the leader in airspace awareness, safety and security. Through an advanced ecosystem of distributed radar, AI at–the–edge, deep sensor integration and autonomous drone capture, Fortem monitors, protects and defends the world's corridors, venues, infrastructures, borders and regions from dangerous or malicious drone threats. The same ecosystem is accelerating the safety of the world's airspace for urban air mobility. Based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the company is privately held and backed by Boeing, Signia Venture Partners, DCVC, Mubadala Investment Company and others. For more information, please visit www.fortemtech.com.


2019 Africa Investment Forum kicks off delivering on the promise to redefine and unpack the continent’s investment opportunities

    • $500 million equity closed for the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund to speed up investments in agriculture
    • Financial close for the Africa Guarantee Fund $175 Equity transaction to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, and $350 million for South Africa’s beef agro-processing project

By African Development Bank
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 12 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The 2019 Africa Investment Forum opened on Monday living up to its promise to move from commitment to action.

A $500 million equity deal presented by the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund last year, to speed up investments in agriculture, and a $175 million equity transaction from the Africa Guarantee Fund for investors to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, are among the transactions that found financial close over the past year.

The opening ceremony was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique.

“The time is now to move with speed to ensure that we unlock our potential…Indeed our continent is ripe for investments, but more importantly, it is also brimming with enormous profitable opportunities,” President Ramaphosa said in his address, as he urged investors to move beyond pledges.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

“As the investor community, your presence here shows your unwavering will to help us and support us to succeed. I invite you, therefore, to join us as we pass the flickering torch of progress across every border of this great continent until the light of development and economic prosperity illuminates every African village, every African town, every African city, in every African household.” he said.

The inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion in less than 72 hours. “A lot of progress has been made on these investment interests,” with a highly dedicated team of partners working around the clock to accelerate financial closure for transactions,” African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina said.

Another transaction tabled last year – a $600 million transaction for COCOBOD to help improve processing and value addition for cocoa – has also reached financial close, and will be signed during this edition of the Forum. Similarly, South Africa’s $350 million beef agro-processing project has reached financial close.

“Promise made, promise kept,” said Adesina. He noted that Mara Phones Ashish Takkhar made a commitment during the 2018 Forum. “In 2019, he delivered.”

“It is a new, more confident Africa. A continent now aware of its place in the world and determined to be a global investment haven. And Africa is harnessing investors’ interests and investments. Welcome to the Africa Investment Forum, the place to be for investors,” he said.

Several leading figures were in attendance including, the Premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance and African Development Bank’s Governor for South Africa; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and Ibrahim Mayaki representing the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Minister Philip Mpango from Tanzania; Minister Jean Jacques Bouya from the Republic of Congo; Mr. Vital Kamerhe from the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the high-level delegates who took part in the opening ceremony. Executive Governors from Nigeria, including Kayade Fayemi of Ekiti State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Adulrahman Abdurazaq of Kwara State.

Shortly after the opening ceremony, Masai Ujuri, President of the Toronto Raptors; Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group and Tokunboh Ismael Managing Partner of Alitheaia IDF Fund shared their views on progress made since 2018.

The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.

The Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Contact: Nafissatou Diouf, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: n.diouf@afdb.org

2019 Africa Visa Openness Index: African Union Commission, African Development Bank report shows wins in visa restrictions across Africa

    - For the first time, on average, Africans can travel to approximately 27 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival
    – Ethiopia moves up a record 32 places on the Index, entering the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa

By African Development Bank
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 12 2019 (IPS-Partners)

For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals. The report was launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students and tourists to travel.

This fourth edition of the Index shows that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019. African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisas to make travel more accessible, up from up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016).

The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa, and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism. The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on free movement of people. Progress is being made but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”

The Visa Openness Index has inspired reforms in more than 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Kenya, unlocking tremendous potential for the promotion of intra-regional tourism, trade and investments.

Despite the gains shown in the report, there is the need to move further. In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.

Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfilment of its people’s aspiration to well-being. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

About the Africa Visa Openness Index

The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel. The Index is tracking changes in country scores over time to show which countries are making improvements that support freer movement of people across Africa.

Download the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index and find out more here.

African Development Bank: Amba Mpoke-Bigg, Communication and External Relations Department, email: a.mpoke-bigg@afdb.org

Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson African Union Commission: Klenam Normanyo, Assistant to the Deputy Chairperson, e-mail NormanyoK@africa-union.org

How can Taps, Toilets & Good Hygiene Help Ensure Sustainable & Resilient Agricultural Supply Chains?

Credit: WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

By Ruth Romer
LONDON, Nov 12 2019 – Water underpins the global economy and agriculture is by far the world’s largest water consumer, accounting for 70% of freshwater withdrawals. Global water demands are projected to increase by 55% by 2050 and climate change will present further pressures on water accessibility.

Many agricultural supply chains, from the smallholder to large commercial farms, originate in countries where large proportions of the population have no access to safely managed water and sanitation services, such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and this presents various social and environmental challenges.

Companies reliant upon the agricultural supply chain have a significant role to play in the management of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as well as a stake in ensuring supply chain security.

A new booklet ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Three Essential Ingredients to Resilient Agricultural Supply Chains’ launches this week at the annual Alliance for Water Stewardship forum.

Co-authored by Alliance for Water Stewardship, Diageo, UN CEO Water Mandate, WaterAid and WASH4Work, it highlights why and how companies that rely on agricultural supply chains should invest in WASH management.

Having reliable access to these basic services would not only improve the health and welfare of the workers; it can support a resilient business whilst helping mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

Why do companies with an agricultural supply chain need to invest in WASH?

Access to adequate WASH services remains critical at every stage in agricultural supply chains. The following physical, financial, reputational and regulatory risks and opportunities need to be managed within an environmental and social lens to ensure long-term economic benefits:

    • Physical – Projections show that more than 40% of people will live in areas of severe water stress by 2050. Together with declining water quality issues, this will exacerbate the challenges of water availability for households and crops. The lack of decent sanitation for agricultural workers can also have a detrimental effect on the quality of local water resources.

    • Financial – At the macro-economic scale, it is estimated that every US $1 invested in WASH generates US$ 4.30 through increased productivity. In collaboration with partners, WaterAid is driving more work on the micro-economic business return on investment.

    • Reputation – Responsible water management and adequate access to WASH for workers and surrounding communities not only benefits the health and dignity of staff and farmers, but also stakeholder relations. Companies with a good reputation can reap business benefits.

    • Regulation and compliance –The United Nations mandates clean water and decent sanitation as a basic human right – and it is a state’s obligation and a company’s responsibility to respect human rights. Internal corporate policy or HR policy, which incorporates WASH elements or global targets, can also help drive internal compliance and alignment with business as usual practices.

How can companies prioritise WASH?

For many companies, the environmentally focused elements associated with access to water to produce the raw material, as well as water-use efficiency and discharge in processing, are often prioritised over the social elements.

However, WASH can be a risk to social license to operate and production capabilities, so water security for business operations requires a more holistic approach.

WASH management should integrate considerations of not only the workers, but also the broader supply chain and the communities in which the workers live.

Once fully embedded within a company’s corporate water stewardship plan with clear corporate policy commitments or targets, the local level implementation can be easier, especially if there is top-down endorsement.

The Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard provides a useful framework for a company to consider WASH management issues at site-level.

The booklet does not intend to provide detailed site-level guidance; however, it provides a primer to build the case for action. It
highlights, alongside associated guidance, the following recommended steps:

    • Champion the integration of WASH into the company’s corporate water stewardship strategy.
    • Assess WASH needs at the local level to understand the shared potential water challenges, risks, impacts and opportunities.
    • Develop a local level WASH stewardship plan including targets.
    • Engage with a third-party provider to support practical action and implementation if in-house resources do not exist.
    • Engage with global initiatives to learn from the experience of others.

One in ten people lack clean water while one in four have no decent toilet. While many companies have provided access to these basic services at their workplaces, the real opportunity lies across supply chains, particularly agricultural ones.

Only then can business truly support universal access to WASH as well as working towards sustainable and resilient supply chains.

Find out more at https://washmatters.wateraid.org/publications/water-sanitation-hygiene-resilient-agriculture-supply-chains.

2019 African Investment Forum builds on 2018 successes, attracts growing international interest

By African Development Bank
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 12 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The Africa Investment Forum is making phenomenal progress in attracting interest from all over the world since launching at the Sandton Convention Centre last year. The value of boardroom transactions which will be negotiated this year will be considerably higher compared to $43bn in 2018.

A hundred and nine countries are represented at this year’s conference, 61 of which are not African, indicating growing international interest in the annual gathering.

International financiers spoke at Monday morning’s press conference about the need for African countries to work together in order to speed up the continent’s international appeal as a lucrative investment destination.

Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah expressed concern over the fragmentation of 55 markets on the continent. “Until Africa forms a common platform for an economic and integrated continent, some countries will not survive. All around the world continents are working together. Multilateralism is becoming a challenge and unless the continent comes together we cannot negotiate with bigger economies,” said Oramah.

A growing number of companies attend investment conferences around the world, looking for opportunities. The Africa Investment Forum 2019 has 29 countries that are participating in deals on the table. Last year, the African Development Band invested $18bn in low-income countries and fragile states which many developed economies regard as too risky. The African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said the bank is not scared of going into those countries. “It is my neighbourhood and my neighbourhood cannot be risky. That’s why the Bank has a facility that is called the private sector enhancement facility, which allows us to go into risky investments. We invest in places where people think we can never go and we don’t lose money there. We are going to make sure that investment continues to go into low-income and fragile states.”

One of the success stories following last year’s conference is the agreement the Bank signed with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB). TDB President Admassu Tadesse explains, “It helps if you find partners you can scale-up collectively. We have signed with the African Development Bank a risk participation agreement that amounts to $300m that allows us to move speedily into deals and have partners that will work alongside us.”

The TDB will also be signing an agreement with the European Union Bank.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

The 2018 inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at 38.7 billion — in less than 72 hours.

The 2019 Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Contact: Amba Mpoke-Bigg, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: a.mpokebiggg@afdb.org

Cairo Dream Requires $264 Billion to Deliver Women’s Call for Justice and Bold Leadership

By Joyce Chimbi
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 2019 – For each of the 830 women dying each day from pregnancy complications and childbirth, an estimated 20 others suffer serious injuries, infections or disabilities.

This is the reality that millions of women face, and informs the Nairobi Summit’s three critical commitments which are to bring preventable maternal deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices, as well as unmet need for family planning, to zero. To achieve this objective money is needed.

Joyce Chimbi

Finding the money for commitments

Private sector organisations including the Ford Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Philips and World Vision, announced that the world as envisioned in Cairo in 1994 will cost $264 billion to deliver.

“Building financial momentum and bridging existing resource gaps around these commitments will not be easy. While most countries have constitutionalised reproductive health and rights, mobilising domestic resources has not automatically followed,” says Nerima Were, programme manager of the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues told IPS.

How much will it really cost to deal with family planning?

To bring maternal mortality to zero in the 120 countries that account for over 95 percent of maternal mortality will cost $115.5 billion in key maternal health interventions.

Ending the unmet need for family planning in the same number of priority countries will cost $68.5 billion. Ending gender-based violence will require investing 42 billion dollars in 132 priority countries.

Currently, only $42 billion in development assistance is expected to be spent on advancing these goals. It, therefore, means that an additional $222 billion in investments will be required over the next decade.

Who will really fund commitments?

Were says that envisioning and articulating what form and shape these investments will take, is critical. She argues that at the moment it is not clear whether these additional costs will be raised in foreign investments, domestic allocation or private spending.

“This discussion is not just about dollars and cents but values and choices. It is also about translating choices into practical ways of making decisions,” says Achim Steiner, of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.

Steiner says that financial decisions can be framed in different ways, and that analysing the cost and gaps in delivering the three commitments, is a way to advise the world on how to invest.

Making informed decisions

“It is about helping societies to be better informed and to make better choices. The issue is not what it will cost to bring them to zero, but the cost of not bringing them to zero,” he argues.

World Bank data has shown that family planning is the “best buy” for governments. For each additional dollar spent on contraceptive services in developing countries, the cost of maternal and newborn healthcare could be reduced by two dollars and twenty cents. Importantly, estimates also show that every dollar invested in family planning pays itself back $120 in saved costs.

Africa must and can find the money

Researchers at the African Population and Health Research Centre indicate that African countries will need to dig deeper.

Budget underspending in the health sector prevails across the continent. “Africa has the resources to achieve these three critical goals. The exponential growth of economies across the country is reflective of the continents financial muscle,” says Jackson Chekweko, executive director for Reproductive Health Uganda, the member association for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Chekweko argues that political will and commitments are more important, and that “there will always be resources for what the government, especially presidents, say is a priority. African presidents wield a lot of influence on resource allocation.”

He argues, for instance, that Uganda made a commitment at the recent London Summit “to allocate $5 million to family planning annually. This has been done because the president said so.”

Bold leadership from Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta

Chekweko adds that there’s also a new generation of leaders such as President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who will not shy away from making ambitious commitments.

“President Kenyatta made several bold statements at the ICPD25 Summit. He has declared that East African countries will reduce FGM to zero by 2022 and confirmed gender-based violence will, without a doubt, be reduced to zero,” he says.

Chekweko says that a demonstrable political commitment will encourage partnerships to help meet existing resource gaps. “Once we agree that issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights are a priority, the money will follow this purpose. Even if it means raising taxes such as VAT(value-added taxes) and PAYE (pay as you earn) by just one percent, it will be done,” Chekweko says.

Were adds that within the context of limited domestic funding, a scale back by external donors, and ambitious health and health coverage targets and domestic resource mobilisation, has never been more critical.

“To reach zero in all three areas, governments will need to carefully decide what their priorities are, anything that falls within that priority framework must be achieved,” she says.

Nairobi Summit to Redouble Efforts to Urgently Deal with Reproductive Rights for Women and Girls

ICPD25 opening, Crown Princess Mary from Denmark with President Uhuru Kenyatta (middle ), and the key speakers. Credit: ICPD25

By Mantoe Phakathi
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 2019 – More than 6 000 delegates in the population development sector are gathering in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi this week to renew the promise made to girls and women 25 years ago in Cairo.

Giving them the renewed mandate were young girls from different African countries, in their firm voices, called upon delegates to ensure that they have access to sexual reproductive health rights, justice and equality.

“I want to be educated about sexual and reproductive rights,” said one of the girls to the applause of the packed conference room at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

A call to Action

In this conference, the girls aim to jolt the delegates to action following a commitment made in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in 1994. The commitment then was to create equality for all by placing women at the centre of global development strategies.

A quarter century later, and in commemorating the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD25), the delegates from 179 countries are renewing the Cairo Promise in light of the fact that the 1994 vision is far from being a reality. The Nairobi Summit is therefore focusing on doubling efforts in the following key areas:

      • Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage.
      • Financing required to complete the ICPD Programme of Action and to sustain the gains made.
      • Drawing on demographic diversity to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development.
      • Ending gender-based violence and harmful practices.
      • Upholding the right to sexual and reproductive healthcare even in humanitarian and fragile contexts.

There’s been progress, but…

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director, Natalia Kanem, told delegates that despite the long journey ahead, progress has been made in the last 25 years.

UNFPA Executive Director, Natalia Kanem speaking at the Opening of the Nairobi Summit. Credit: ICPD25

“Maternal mortality is down 44 percent, worldwide,” said Kanem, adding: “This means four million women who would have otherwise died while pregnant, or at childbirth, are alive today.”

While she noted that there was a good reason to celebrate, she, however, noted that “good progress is not good enough”, insisting that the promises made to girls, women and everyone should be kept.

In illustrating the challenges, she said within the short space of time that she was standing at the podium, at least 46 under-age girls have been forced to marriage, and a countless number of girls have been sexually abused, hurt and traumatised.

“The victims and survivors are most likely to be shamed and blamed than the perpetrators who violated them,” Kanem said.

She paid tribute to governments, civil society organisations, UN agencies, the private sector and the youth, for bringing new ideas and resources to make rights and choices a reality.

“To the youth, you’re inspiring in pushing us to go further. Thank you,” she said.

Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Also adding his voice to action against all practices, policies and laws that put women at a disadvantage, was the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He reminded the delegates that there were absent participants from the Nairobi Summit. In his statement, he was making reference to women of the world who would, this year alone, experience gender-based violence inflicted most likely by someone close to them. He was also referring to the 800 women and girls who die every day during pregnancy or childbirth, the four million girls who are forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the more than 33 000 girls married every day before the age of 18 and millions of unemployed youths with limited hope for a better future.

Kenyatta urged delegates to let their deliberations “ be guided by the needs, the aspirations and the unrealised potential of those individuals who are not present here.”

He noted that significant progress in key areas, though uneven, has been made since 1994 when the Cairo Promise was first made. Kenyatta observed that today nearly one billion fewer people live in extreme poverty compared to 1990, life expectancy has increased by seven years, universal access to primary education has gone up and access to birth control has also increased, leading to a reduced global fertility rate.

“We’ve also seen a steady, though slow increase, in the number of women in leadership and decision-making positions in all sectors of society,” said Kenyatta.

In renewing the promise, Kenyatta said the packaging of priority actions will differ from country to country depending on their development needs, urging nations to at least commit to increasing secondary and tertiary education for both boys and girls. He also implored the nations to strive to reduce maternal deaths and to eliminate incidents of FGM.

Youth involvement non-negotiable

The United Nation’s (UN) deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, called for the youth’s involvement in the decision-making table, adding that there must be data of support programmes.

“Millions of women and girls are still waiting for promises to be met, they’ve been waiting for a long time,” she said, and insisting that women and girls are the owners of their bodies.

Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark addressing ICPD25 in Nairobi. Credit: ICPD25

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Rasmus Prehn said women and girls are at the heart of sustainable development. He called upon delegates to maximise their effort in this endeavour, adding that he was looking forward to ICPD30 only if it is about celebrating success. “Women and girls are the true owners of their bodies,” he said.

When is Universal Health Coverage Good for Attaining Universal Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?

UNFPA-supported midwives ensured that this young woman gave birth safely in Bor Hospital, South Sudan. © UNFPA South Sudan - Considering the current pace of progress, the East and Southern Africa region is unlikely to achieve universal access to SRHR and Universal Health Coverage by 2030

UNFPA-supported midwives ensured that this young woman gave birth safely in Bor Hospital, South Sudan. © UNFPA South Sudan

By Julitta Onabanjo
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 12 2019 – This is a special year for all rights-based health advocates, as we celebrate 25 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

At the ICPD in Cairo in 1994, for the first time world leaders from 179 member states committed to the principles that underpin today’s Sustainable Development Goals: non-discrimination and universality; the centrality of health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights; education; women’s empowerment and gender equality; and the collective need to ensure environmental sustainability.

In the past 25 years, noteworthy progress has been made towards the realization of universal sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in most parts of the world, including in East and Southern Africa.

The East and Southern Africa region is home to more than 600 million people, with a third of its population between 10 to 24 years of age.

In the East and Southern Africa region:

  • Today, one in three women are using a modern family planning method, compared to less than one in ten in 1994. Higher use of modern family planning methods has enabled women to exercise their right to determine the timing and number of their children;
  • A woman’s chance of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth has declined from a 1-in-20 risk during her lifetime to a 1-in-55 risk;
  • Many countries have criminalized gender-based violence (GBV), and have outlawed child marriage and female genital mutilation;
  • New HIV infections have declined by 20 per cent, while AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 44 per cent since 2010.

Considering the current pace of progress, it could be concluded that the East and Southern Africa region is unlikely to achieve universal access to SRHR and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.

Despite good progress, the promise of the ICPD remains to be fulfilled for millions of people in the East and Southern Africa region. One in five women do not have their family planning needs met.

Lack of contraceptive choices is producing sub-optimal health and fertility benefits. Although care during pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery has improved, the quality and cost of these services remain a challenge.

More women appear to be dying due to poor quality care than lack of access to care. One in three girls are being married by age 18, and almost one in six young women aged 20 to 24 years continues to experience gender-based violence.

Legal systems still have difficulty convicting perpetrators of gender-based violence. Ninety-eight per cent of all new HIV infections are now occurring in just 15 countries, the majority of them in East and Southern Africa. These challenges are exacerbated in conflict, humanitarian and emergency settings.

Considering the current pace of progress, it could be concluded that the East and Southern Africa region is unlikely to achieve universal access to SRHR and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.

In this context, the ICPD25 Nairobi Summit provides a great opportunity to recommit ourselves to redoubling our efforts to accelerate progress towards universal SRHR, and women’s empowerment and gender equality – the unfinished agendas of the ICPD.

The good news is that, along with the steady but noteworthy progress towards SRHR for all, leaving no one behind, the momentum around Universal Health Coverage is also growing in the East and Southern Africa region.

The Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on UHC by Heads of State and Government and representatives of States and Governments will further strengthen this momentum.

Through the high-level declaration, world leaders have committed to progressively achieve Universal Health Coverage, achieve universal access to SRHR, and stop the rise and reverse the trend of catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenditure by providing measures to ensure financial risk protection and eliminate impoverishment due to health-related expenses, by 2030.

Comprehensive SRHR services include:
Modern contraception
Pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery care including fistula
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
Safe abortion and post-abortion care
Reproductive cancers
Sub-fertility and infertility treatment
Gender-based violence (GBV) and other harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage
Sexual health and well-being, including menstrual health management (MHM)

Under the unifying framework of UHC, countries are prioritizing the provision of a set of essential health services aligned to country needs (i.e. a minimum essential UHC Benefit Package) and developing roadmaps to progressively expand the number of services included under a minimum essential UHC Benefit Package, as the economy and/or financing for health increases.

To generate resources for Universal Health Coverage, many countries are initiating innovative financing arrangements (e.g. pool health financing and pre-payment mechanisms), and to ensure that the cost of using health services does not put people at risk of financial harm, many countries are strengthening their financial protection mechanisms.

However, the current and, for many, proposed minimum essential UHC benefit packages, financing and financial protection mechanisms do not include six out of the nine recommended essential SRH bundles of services (see Box 2, 4-9). In many countries, even if the remaining three essential SRHR bundles of services are part of UHC benefit packages, they are not fully covered under UHC financing and financial protection mechanisms.

The current momentum around UHC in the region should become a powerful framework for accelerating progress towards universal SRHR:

  • When comprehensive SRHR services are progressively integrated into the UHC benefit packages, and financing and financial protection arrangements ensure that the use of SRHR services does not expose the user to financial hardship;
  • When UHC policies and programmes prioritize integrated, people-centered delivery of primary promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health care, including SRHR, by following a life-course approach;
  • When UHC policies and programmes ensure that ‘no one is left behind’, with an endeavour to get essential health and SRHR services to those left furthest behind first, founded on the dignity of the human person and reflecting the principles of equality and non-discrimination;
  • When the opportunities and risks associated with existing/proposed UHC financing, delivery and financial protection arrangements are better understood and evidence-based measures implemented to minimize undesirable outcomes, including development of evidence-driven country-specific policies on the role of the private sector in attaining universal SRHR and UHC;
  • When UHC policies and programmes strengthen the capacity of national governments to exercise strategic leadership and coordination, focusing on intra as well as inter-sectoral coordination and integrated, people-centered delivery; as well as strengthen the capacity of local authorities, and encourage them to effectively engage with their respective communities and stakeholders to accelerate progress towards universal SRHR and UHC.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship

In the lead up to the Nairobi Summit ICPD25, everyday people have joined advocates and activists to passionately express what they march for under the hashtag campaign #IMarchFor.

What will you march for? I march for the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action – an agenda still to be fully realized – an agenda that includes at its core universal SRHR.

Achieving this target would require us to take advantage of the momentum of Universal Health Coverage. SRHR and UHC will need to become more entwined. Simply put – there can be no UHC without universal SRHR and vice versa. Together, let’s march for the universal goal of UHC and SRHR for all, with no exceptions!