Twenty five years ago the city of Cairo, Egypt hosted a UN-backed gathering of international development professionals from nearly every country on the earth. That 1994 meeting was called the International Conference on Population and Development, or the ICPD, and it became one of the most significant global development gatherings of the last quarter century. At the conference over 170 countries signed was was known as an “action plan” that for the first time recognized fulfilling the rights of women and girls is central to development.

That Cairo conference 25 conference firmly established what is now taken as a given around the UN and in the development community more broadly: that development is not possible without promoting the health and eduction of women and girls.

That was 25 years ago. And this month, in Nairobi, Kenya global development experts, government officials and other key stakeholders are meeting for what is known as the Nairobi Summit ICPD25, to mark a quarter century since that landmark Cairo conference.

On the line with me to discuss why the International Conference on Population and Development was such a watershed moment for the international community, what progress has been made since then, and what to expect at the Nairobi summit is Dr. Natalia Kanem.

She is the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and very much at the helm of planning the Nairobi conference. More importantly though, her agency, UNFPA, is very much the focal point for global efforts to promote the health, rights, and eduction of women and girls around the world. So, our conversation today serves as both a curtain raiser to the Nairobi summit and also a stocktaking of what kinds of progress has been made on the rights and health of women and girls since the ICPD 25 year ago.

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