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  MANZINI – After 25 years, the promise of Cairo remains relevant as Eswatini boasts a reduced number in births.

The above has been attributed to the endorsement of the landmark agreement of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) by 179 governments in Cairo, Egypt in 1994, which Eswatini was part of.

Speaking during the national launch of the double celebrations by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini said an average number of 3.3 births per woman compared with 6.4 births per woman during the decade preceding the Cairo, Egypt conference have been met. 
The celebrations were held at the Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre yesterday, where UNFPA celebrated reaching 50 years of its formation and 25 years since the milestone agreement of the ICPD.

Dlamini, who was the guest speaker, said with fewer children, women had more time to focus on other productive activities as noted in the increase in labour force participation rates from 32 per cent in 1997 to 47 per cent in 2016.
“The increase of 15 percentage points is very commendable,” he said.

The PM said among the notable achievements over the years worth highlighting was the coming into effect of the Constitution in 2005, which provided for the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms, through the enshrined “Bill of Rights”.


Dlamini said a rights-based approach had been adopted and guided the formulation of development policies, plans and programmes across government.
In the same vein, he said the country was fully committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and has ratified a number of regional, continental and international instruments as a demonstration of the commitment.

On the legislative front, Dlamini said the country had enacted requisite laws to protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.


He said these included the Girls and Women Protection Act, Maintenance Act, The People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, The Children Protection and Welfare Act, as well as the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act.
Further, he said Eswatini had made commendable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Indications are that the HIV prevalence rate is gradually declining and the country is steadfastly on the path to epidemic control,” the PM said.
He noted that significant progress had also been made towards the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.
UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Dr Julitta Onabanjo said Eswatini had made significant progress.

Onabanjo congratulated the country for the enactment of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act of 2018.
She said now was the time to see it being implemented, including the strengthening of the capacity of providers to deliver quality services for GBV survivors. 
She said the adoption of the conference outcome, the ICPD Programme of Action marked the beginning of a new era of political commitments and willingness on the part of governments, international community and civil society to integrate population concerns.
Onabanjo said emphasis had been put where it should squarely be; on improving lives of individuals and ensuring respect for their fundamental human rights, agreeing that part and parcel of basic human rights were reproductive rights.

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