Gender equality, investing in youth and healthcare, building active aging societies: the four crucial key areas for policy planners

Italian Parliamentarians sharing their thoughts on GCPPD2016

Sandra Zampa and Roberta Agostini interviewed by EuroNGOs on 01 May 2016

In Tokyo on 26-27 April 2016, Parliamentarians from 65 countries gathered at the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development “Toward the 2016 G7 Ise-Shima Summit “ (GCPPD2016).

During the conference, organized by The Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), there was a special focus on three issues: gender equality and women’s empowerment; investing in youth; and building active aging societies in the context of the Agenda 2030. Here you can visit the official website of the GCPPD2016.

Parliamentarians from many European Countries were present including Italian MPs: Sandra Zampa and Roberta Agostini. We followed up with them to unveil their insights on the key issues discussed at the GCPPD2016 .

Gender equality and women’s empowerment were among the main issues raised at the GCPPD2016. Which key areas were identified as crucial for the work of Parliamentarians and why?

Sandra Zampa: First of all in Tokyo we reaffirmed the importance of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Declaration adopted at the G7 Parliamentarians Conference held in Berlin in 2015, which underlined the importance of strengthening universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world, while realizing that gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment is fundamental to achieving the SDGs.

As Parliamentarians we are directly involved in public policy planning, design and implementation as the representatives of our people, and we are responsible for mobilizing the political will to achieve important policy goals.

So, we consider relevant the 4 key areas in the final document Declaration and Recommendations:
1) Gender Equality, Women’s and Girl’s Empowerment, and Universal Health Coverage;
2) Investing in Youth;
3) Building Active and Economically Vibrant Ageing Societies;
4) Infectious Disease Risk Management as a Part of Human Security because they can be considered global issues that every country must face. If we do so, it will be possible to work for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 that underlines “the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments.”

Roberta Agostini: 1) Universal Health Coverage: Universal Health Coverage is the best investment a government can make in the health and well-being of its population, in reducing the burden of untreated illnesses and the transmission of these illnesses, and in the achievement of prosperity and dignity for all.
2) Equal Opportunity Representative
3) Gender Pay Gap

What challenges do you foresee in the gender-responsive implementation of Agenda 2030, particularly in relation to SRHR and how Parliamentarians and parliamentary networks can contribute to overcoming these challenges?

Sandra Zampa: The biggest challenge is to strengthen national and international legal frameworks and policies in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls. This is political and civil emergency. We cannot forget the terrible crimes of ‘femicide’ that occurred  recently in Italy and we know that this crime occurs frequently around the world. For this reason, in the next G7 Summit that will be held in Italy, we will work towards the inclusion of SRHR and GBV in the G7 Summit Agenda.

Roberta Agostini: We know that 220 million women cannot use contraceptive methods and in 2013 nearly 300,000 women died from complications during pregnancy. Women still earn about 40% less than men, 35% are abused by men and only 22 MPs of 100 are women. Our goal for 2030, as women and as parliamentarians, must be closing this gap. This means that women and men equally share work, share power, share time and share roles, both in the public and in the private realms.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights go beyond the issue of health. Sexual and reproductive rights are basic human rights that contribute towards women’s empowerment in the fields of social, economic and financial development. Giving and securing women’s rights leads to a progressive development of women’s status in the society as a whole and ensures their personal and social well-being. Therefore, all women should have access to safe and legal medical services and assistance, including abortion, to guarantee the principle of equal opportunity and social justice throughout the World.

In the performance of their key functions of legislation, representation and oversight, parliaments can actively contribute to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 especially in the monitoring, follow up and review of its implementation.

During the GCPPD2016, there was also a discussion about building partnership between Parliamentarians and Civil Society to achieve SDGs. In your opinion, what is the key element for building this type of alliance?

Sandra Zampa: Our All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health and Women’s Rights strongly believes in the importance of involving parliamentarians in advocating for women’s and girls’ empowerment and agency, gender equality and the issues highlighted by the Cairo Programme of Action and the Beijing Platform. We also think that the collaboration between MPs and civil society is of great importance, that these synergies are vital to achieve our goals.

In this perspective, and considering that the next G7 Summit will take place in Italy, the group – together with AIDOS and EPF – is working to host the 2017 International Parliamentary Conference in Italy.

Roberta Agostini: An important condition to achieve the SDGs is that civil society, social partners and public authorities find effective forms of cooperation, breaking out from pre-existing silos. If, in fact, each entity continues its efforts to attract the attention of public opinion on their own field of action, be it the environment, poverty or social issues, the overarching goals of sustainable development will not be met. The achievement  of  Agenda 2030 requires a change in thinking and a comprehensive approach to problems. In particular,  gender equality and  women’s rights issues need a holistic responses that confront the discriminatory social norms and practices that underlie gender inequality. Challenging social norms not only requires the correct laws and rules, but an investment in programmes to change the behaviour of both men and women.

How will you apply the conference outcomes to your political action at national level?

Sandra Zampa: Our aim is to promote the conference outcomes at national level and ensure that the learning becomes enshrined in our decision making. In 2014 for example, we submitted the Stockholm Statement of Commitment signed by 263 parliamentarians from 135 countries and adopted during the last 6th IPCI-ICPD (April 2014) to the Hon. Lapo Pistelli (ex Vice Minister for International Cooperation) before the informal meeting of the Ministries to the International cooperation organized in Florence in the framework of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU (July – December 2014). Last year, the Berlin Appeal was firstly delivered to the Italian Sherpa before the Elmaus G7 Summit and we submitted a resolution based on the same appeal. The resolution was approved at the end of May.

With reference to the Tokyo Declaration recently issued, we presented it at the MPs of the Committee of Women of the Chamber of Deputies with the objective of promoting it among the MPs and to engage our fellow MPs to join in our work in protecting and promoting the rights of women’s and girls .

Roberta Agostini: The conference was an important experience because it was an opportunity to meet and exchange knowledge with legislators from around the world. We closed the proceedings with Italy’s commitment to host the 2017 global conference of parliaments in Rome, proposing as its main topic  migration through the perspective of human rights and more specifically women’s rights. More than ever we need to come together as parliamentarians to share policies and develop a common global perspective that has at its heart a commitment to the principle of human rights and global solidarity. From now we start working to this commitment a reality.

What was the most interesting conference moment for you?

Roberta Agostini: One of the most interesting moments was the session on active ageing and well-being for ageing population. In general, it was very useful to compare the situation in Italy with that in other countries.

Many thanks to Sandra Zampa and Roberta Agostini for sharing their thoughts. A special thanks also to Maria Grazia Panunzi from AIDOS and Marina Davidashvili from EPF for their support.

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