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Despite global COVID-19 crisis, governments uphold support for women’s and girls’ health and rights, one year after historic summit


Kuala Lumpur, 12 November 2020 -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on the health and economies of countries around the world, governments, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions and the private sector are stepping up political, financial and in-kind support for programmes that protect the health and rights of women and girls in developing countries.


A year ago, at the landmark Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the world came together to commit to ending preventable maternal death, the unmet need for contraception, and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage, by 2030. At that Summit, more than 8,000 delegates from 170 countries made 1,250 financial and other commitments in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.





Malaysia has made numerous advancements in mobilising legislation and resources towards  ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. There are still numerous social and legal barriers that are still in place which if not attended to in a holistic and equitable manner could weigh down her momentum towards the 2030 SDGs.  


Numerous challenges face Malaysian women and girls in the current global Covid-19 crisis. From rising numbers of domestic violence reports, to economic hardships, the yet to be recognised value and contribution of the care economy as well as a formidable gender pay gap.  


“Traversing social, religious and cultural barriers to implement policy cannot be done overnight and we at the UNFPA understand that, however the implementation of a comprehensive sexual education (CSE) and awareness policy will play a fundamental role in to ensure the fullest potential of young people and their future” stated Mr. Najib Assifi the UNFPA Malaysia Representative. 


Malaysia has committed to the ICPD25 agenda, and as of 2018 has developed numerous insights and recommendations to tackle issues such as Domestic Violence, Sexual harassment, child marriage as well as developing both legal and physical infrastructures to guard the rights and well-being of her women & girls. Currently a proposed Sexual Harassment Bill has been in the works and is supposed to be tabled in the final Parliamentary Seating of the year. 






Today, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), reports that major donor governments are already substantially delivering on the amounts they pledged in Nairobi.  And some are even surpassing what they promised, demonstrating their steadfast commitment to the rights of women and girls at the time it is most needed.


“The commitments made in Nairobi are more critical now than ever before. Far from dampening our ambition, COVID-19 has only sharpened our focus and resolve,” says UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem. “I am heartened to see so many government, private sector and civil society partners take bold steps to sustain our collective efforts and deliver on our promises to women and girls. As long as we stand together, we will prevail.”


Civil society, the private sector, academia, and others rallied behind the cause on an unprecedented scale, pledging over $8 billion towards achieving zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030. 


Governments also announced major commitments, including:


  • GBP 425 million (approx. USD 552 million) from the United Kingdom to UNFPA to boost supplies of contraceptives
  • Over NOK 11 billion (approx. USD 1.2 billion) from Norway for sexual and reproductive health and rights in development and humanitarian settings between 2019 and 2025
  • EUR 20 million (approx. USD 23 million) from Germany for sexual and reproductive health and rights, followed by EUR 30 million (approx. USD 35 million) for UNFPA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • EUR 29 million (approx. USD 34 million) from the EU for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • DKK 100 million (approx. USD 16 million) from Denmark to UNFPA for sexual and reproductive health



In September 2020, UNFPA established a High-Level Commission to ensure all the commitments made at the Nairobi Summit stay on track, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chaired by Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, the Commission will make recommendations so that the momentum created in Nairobi continues towards a world of rights and choices for all.


“We will never lose sight of the world we are fighting for -- one of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all,” Dr. Kanem concluded.