Renowned artists from East and Southern Africa joined hands with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to celebrate the anniversary of the Nairobi Summit and reaffirmed the commitments to achieve the vision of full equality for women and girls and sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.
Hosted by Ayanda Makayi and Stephanie Sandows, actors from the show MTV Shuga: Down South, poet Napo, filmmaker Kemiyondo Coutinho, actor Ayanda Makayi, and singing group KrTC from UNFPA's Safeguard Young People Initiative shared their performances to convey their stories in creative words and advocate for reproductive health and rights, women empowerment, and gender equality.
Under the theme 'The March Continues, with no one left behind,' the event leveraged on artists' creativity to touch on the work of UNFPA in the region and highlight the 1,300 commitments to sexual and reproductive health made at the Nairobi Summit in 2019. Through African art, music, film, and poetry, creativity played a role as a catalyst for change, activism, and advocacy and mobilized audiences with the dynamic discourse that came with powerful stories.
"Since the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 1994, step-by-step progress has been made in the East and Southern Africa region. Now girls are less likely to be married and have children in childhood. Women are less likely to die due to complications of childbirth. More women are likely to use modern contraception and obtain integrated sexual and reproductive health services, including quality maternal health care. But we still have much to do," shared Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
As countries face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been significant disruptions in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and a higher risk of gender-based violence in the region. In this context, the issues highlighted at the Nairobi Summit proved to be even more critical today, and it is crucial to safeguard the achieved gains to avoid rollbacks.
To stay on track and achieve zero unmet need for contraception, zero preventable maternal deaths, zero gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030, the collective march continues to handle the unfinished business, and champion the transformation in shaping the stories of women and girls across the continent with African artists.