"As we discuss, we should not forget that we still have two very important years left to consolidate the gains and accelerate our efforts to achieve the MDGs; in discussing about the future, we cannot forget that the time to act is now and that civil society has a critical role to play", Liberia's Gender and Development Minister has said.
Madam Julia Duncan Cassell told participants of the third High Level Penal (HLP) post 2015 Development agenda civil society preparatory meeting not to concentrate on the post 2015 development agenda, but should renew energy for greater action in the next two years of the climax of the MDGs.
According to her, the credibility of the post 2015 agenda depends largely on goals that are still achievable within the present MDGs.
She named the prioritizing of the youth emphasis on the needs and challenges of adolescent girls; the persistent prevalence of sexual and gender based violence; investment and ensuring access to reproductive health and the protection of reproductive rights as well as economic transformation with more and better economic opportunities for women.
"No agenda for sustainable human development, for economic growth, or for political stability can succeed without a central focus to include, to target, and to build on the potentials of our youth in Africa, 70 percent of our population is under the age of 30 and just over 20 percent of the young people are between the ages of 15 and 24," Minister Cassell said.
The Gender Minister pointed out that one specific challenge concerning adolescent girls is the practice of early child marriage in West Africa which, she said, accounts for 33% of ever-married women who married between the ages of 15 - 19.
According to the Minister, this practice does not only contributes to high numbers of teenage pregnancies and increase the risk of death during child birth, but it also deters girls from completing education and building the skills needed to contribute to nation building.
"We cannot continue to ignore the persistent prevalence of sexual and gender based violence; violence against women and girls is a gross violation of human rights that continues unabated and with impunity across regions and countries....it is a significant obstacle to achieving the objectives of development, peace, security, human rights and sustainability..." she stated.
Minister Cassell noted that the absence of an indicator to end violence against women in the current MDGs Framework needs to be rectified in the post-2015 agenda, as every human being deserves to live in a world free from fear and violence.
The two-day (January 28-29, 2013) Monrovia meeting is part of consultations with CSOs that are being jointly organized by the Africa-wide post 2015 working group and the Liberia CSO post 2015 working group that are working to partnership beyond 2015 (a global network of CSOs), the United Nations Secretariat outreach desk, the UN Secretary General Secretariat and representatives from other southern CSOs networks.
The objectives of the HLP outreach consultations with CSOs seek to share evidence from grassroots and CSO consultations with members of the HLP; frame, articulate and deliberate on a clear vision for the future that is informed by the needs and aspirations of ordinary people world-wide; agreed on key pillars of economic transformation, highlighting nation building blocks for sustained wealth for all among others.