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Government of The Gambia Hosts UNFPA@50 Partnership Celebration Dinner

A highlight of UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem’s visit to The Gambia, was the UNFPA@50 partnership celebration dinner, hosted by the Government of The Gambia on 8 August 2019, at the Labranda Coral Beach Hotel.

This dinner was a gathering to celebrate an amazing story, shaped by our collective experiences and framed by our varied journeys towards ensuring rights and choices for all. It should be noted that, this story began 25 years ago in Cairo, where 10,757 people, motivated by the possibility of a future where the 10-year-old girl and boy would be safe and free to explore and achieve her or his full potential, engaged in a week-long deliberation to redefine what the world considered Population and Development. Today, as a result, their hard work is reflected in the International Conference on Population and Development’s Programme of Action.

Speaking at the dinner, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, recognised the Government of The Gambia’s demonstrated commitment to the ICPD agenda, by its continuous promotion of Universal Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, the Provision of free Maternal and Child Health Services in public facilities and by respecting the rights of adolescents and youth to access information and services related to reproductive health. She went on to emphasise that, it is as such no surprise that, The Gambia has seen a significant reduction in maternal mortality, fertility and under-five and infant mortality rates and such progress excites us at UNFPA.

“I am positive that in the spirit of celebrations we will renew our partnerships, grow our networks and find renewed strength to keep pushing the reproductive health agenda. For 50 years, we at UNFPA have dedicated our lives, time and resources to delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and where every young person’s potential is fulfilled. And as I look forward to the next 50 years ahead of us, I extend an arm to all of you here tonight to come on board and work with us to achieve this mission together. Because as the African Proverb says ‘Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper’, let us wine and dine tonight and in unity take the world by storm tomorrow!”

Her Excellency the Vice President of The Republic of The Gambia, Dr. Isatou Touray, reiterated that, Fifty years of leading the way in the area of population and development and forty-seven years in The Gambia is no small feat. According to her, in the past years, when the issue of women’s and girls’ rights was not fashionable, UNFPA kept the trail blazing, providing the oversight, coordination and necessary resources for countries like The Gambia, to ensure that everyone, everywhere, has equal access to sexual and reproductive health, rights, information and services.

“The problems that were discussed in 1994 in Cairo, are still a reality for some people even here in The Gambia and every single one of us, has a responsibility to ensure that we develop sustainable solutions to deal with these challenges.”

Her Excellency the Vice President concluded her remarks by assuring the UNFPA Executive Director and the entire gathering that, the Government of The Gambia supports the match to Nairobi; a national ICPD review has been completed, currently, consultations are underway for the finalisation of the National ICPD commitments for the Nairobi Summit and the government will support a high-level delegation to the Nairobi Summit, to renew our national commitments to the ICPD agenda. 

At the celebration dinner, paintings reflecting the work and interest of UNFPA, were exhibited and a beautiful spoken-word poetry flash mob, was performed by members of AfriYAN The Gambia. This was the climax of the evening and gave each guest, something to think about as we head to Nairobi and as the world prepares to renew its commitment to finish the unfinished business of ensuring rights and choices for all.