As 179 countries across the globe celebrated World Population Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the government’s commitment to achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
He also acknowledged that Cambodia still faced some major challenges.
The 30th World Population Day marked the 25th anniversary of the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) work in Cambodia and the 50th anniversary of the organisation.
Thursday also marked the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), messages from Hun Sen and the UNFPA said.
The UN website said 179 governments recognised that reproductive health and gender equality were essential to achieve sustainable development at the “landmark” ICPD in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt.
The ICPD recognised the relationship between population and development, and highlighted the bravery of women while promoting reproductive health and women’s rights to be included as part of national, regional and global development.
“There have been many achievements in Cambodia over the past 25 years, including population growth and improvements in reproductive health, economic growth, education and the reduction of poverty, as well as protection for the vulnerable, among others,” Hun Sen’s message said.
However, the prime minister said he was still not satisfied and called for further efforts to resolve outstanding issues to achieve the sustainable development goal of “Leaving No One Behind”.
“Although remarkable achievements have been made, we are still not where we want to be,” he stressed.
Hun Sen said Cambodia will participate in the International Conference on Population and Development to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November.
“Cambodia continues to be committed to the full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action and acknowledges its importance for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals,” the prime minister said.
The UNFPA said the Kingdom still has a lot of work to do.
The last Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey showed that teenage pregnancy remains a major concern, with 12 per cent of girls aged 15-19 already mothers. Family planning and an end to violence against women and children needed to be addressed as a priority, it said.
“For 25 years, UNFPA has stood with the Cambodian government to ensure choice. Today we celebrate the choices and victories obtained."
“Tomorrow, and every day after, we will continue to stand with every woman, girl and young person in the pursuit of rights and choices for all,” a letter by UNFPA representative Rizvina de Alwis said.
The UNFPA also held an event to celebrate World Population Day at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
Attended by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, it included guest speakers, who highlighted some of the past 25 years’ achievements and their hopes for the future, apart from traditional dances.
There was also a photography exhibition showcasing past achievements and champions for change. The event was intended to inspire the fulfilment of any Sustainable Development Goal not yet achieved.
“Over the past 25 years, Cambodia has been successful in giving rights to women and they have more opportunities and choices than before, especially with regard to determining how many children they have.
“Youth have more opportunities now than 25 years ago . . . opportunities to help their families and communities through their creativity and talent. When girls and women enjoy full rights, Cambodia can achieve its 2030 Sustainable Development Goal,” Sar Kheng said.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet.
“On World Population Day, we recognise that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanisation,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said to mark the July 11 event.