Draft Opening Speech by decree


									                          3rd APCRSH Opening Speech
               The Honorable YB Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil
                   Minister of Women, Family and Community
                      Development, Malaysia

YABhg Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Binti Haji Mohd Ali
Patron, 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health,
YB Dato’ Dr. Ng Yen Yen
Member of Parliament and Deputy Finance Minister I of Malaysia, as
Chairperson, International Steering Committee,
Ms Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund, New York,
Dr. Steven W. Sinding
Director-General, International Planned Parenthood Federation, London,
Dr. Kamaruzaman Ali
Chairman FFPAM as Chairman, Local Organising Committee,
YBhg Datuk Dr. Raj Karim
Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation, East &
South East Asia and Oceania Region,
Members of the International and Local Steering Committees and Sub-
Distinguished Guests and Speakers, Delegates including Young People,
Members from the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen …

         On behalf of the Government and people of Malaysia, I extend our
warmest welcome “Selamat Datang” to all delegates and visitors to Malaysia
and to the 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health.
We are particularly honored to be given the opportunity to host this
Conference and do our part to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the

      It is indeed heartening to see so many delegates at this auspicious
Conference, not only from the Asia Pacific region but also from countries
beyond and representatives of international and regional bodies all
dedicated to the issue of sexual and reproductive health. I must
acknowledge the role of the Conference Patron YABhg Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah
Binti Haji Mohd Ali - the former First Lady of Malaysia and a well-known
pioneer and advocate of reproductive health, the Chairperson of the
International Steering Committee - YB Dato Dr Ng Yen Yen and members of
her Committee for providing the confidence that the Conference will be a
thoroughly enjoyable and learning experience.       I congratulate too the
organizers of this Conference – the Federation of Family Planning
Associations, Malaysia (FFPAM) and the International Planned Parenthood
Federation, East, South East Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAOR) for their
skills in engaging colleagues from all over to come together to share and
learn. It is also evident that the Local Organizing Committee headed by Dr.
Kamaruzaman Ali, Chairman of FFPAM and the Conference Secretariat have
worked very hard indeed to ensure the success of the Conference.

      The organization of a Conference of this magnitude requires
determination, cooperation, commitment and the pooling of resources,
expertise and experiences.    I understand that various stakeholders have
come together for about 2 years in planning this Conference. I extend my
sincere thanks to all donors, academicians, health care professionals,
Members of Parliament, advocates, youth representative and Malaysian
government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs); especially
the strong support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and
the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). My own Ministry,
the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development has supported
FFPAM right from the start of its bidding to host this Conference and is also
involved in the Local Organising Committee as well as providing financial

Distinguished Guests and Participants:

      I may not be present at Cairo in 1994, nor Beijing in 1995 but since I
was appointed to the Cabinet in 2001 and given the responsibility on
Women, Family and Community, I have thoroughly engaged in all critical
matters relating to the International Conference in Population and
Development (ICPD) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW).
My concerns also extend to broader issues such as human trafficking,
HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, with an overall linkage to poverty and the quality
of life which are now succinctly expressed and monitored through the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

      Are the promises of ICPD and FWCW being kept? As we look back
over the last 10 years with regards to the Cairo and Beijing agreements, we
can clearly see two scenarios – one of inspiring successes and the other of
formidable tasks ahead. It cannot be denied that the two documents have
critical links to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).         It is now
becoming increasingly understood, recognized and accepted that investing
in sexual and reproductive health and rights leads to the attainment of the
MDGs. The resulting effects will be positive where millions of lives will be
saved and ensuring quality of life for now and in generations to come.

      We have made inroads in sexual and reproductive health and rights,
but we also need to chart a course on where we are going and what should
be our priorities over the next ten years to secure sexual and reproductive
health and rights for all.    Experiences have showed that where politics,
budgets and programmes reflect ICPD priorities, progress had become a
reality that benefit the people.

      Malaysia too has documented the progress made by our country in
the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action as well as identified

the challenges ahead, especially ensuring sexual and reproductive rights of
women, men and young people and that some special groups like single
mothers and people living with AIDS deserve more support. At this juncture,
I wish to record my thanks to the various agencies that have participated
actively in the ICPD+10 assessment exercises to document and monitor our
progress and direct our focus on key areas for future action. The focal
department in my Ministry - the National Population and Family Development
Board, provided the lead for the multi-ministry evaluation for the UNFPA
exercise that was reported at the United Nations. The Federation of Family
Planning Associations, Malaysia on the other hand led the civil society
initiative and produced two dedicated reports; in collaboration with the IPPF
on the 5As – Access, Advocacy, Adolescents, Abortion and AIDS and with
ARROW (Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre on Women) on
monitoring sexual and reproductive health and rights. I also refer to the
excellent report on the progress on the Millennium Development Goals
produced by the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department and
the United Nations Development Programme ably led by the UNDP Resident
Coordinator – Mr. Richard Leete.

        Malaysia has enjoyed much success in our political, social and
economic efforts in the 5 decades since Independence in 1957 but in the
race to modernization and development, we are also unwavering in
promoting religious, ethical and moral discipline of our people. We strongly
believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights are a crucial part of
our daily lives, which when upheld, promoted, supported and practised in
our culturally appropriate mould will enhance human dignity and quality of
life.   In this respect the Ministry of Women, Family and Community
Development has initiated a community based reproductive health program
(Nursejahtera) since 2001. This program focuses on sexual and reproductive
health for women and their family members and include educational talks,

health screening and exhibitions which has benefited more than 150,000
people at the grass root level.

In addition, the NPFDB in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and
FFPAM has successfully pilot tested a project funded by UNFPA to integrate
a comprehensive reproductive health services within the primary health care
system. As a follow up to this pilot project, the NPFDB has extended these
services to all its 50 clinics nationwide. One of the important outputs of this
pilot project is the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
in English and Bahasa Malaysia.

      In Malaysia, we are assured of top political commitment and the
involvement of related ministries such as Health, Education, Finance and
Information, including an appropriate allocation and distribution of
resources. In fact there has been a steady increase in funding for my
Ministry, which also translates to more financial support for the work of our
partners from the civil society. As an example, a grant of RM480,600 has
been approved for FFPAM to conduct Pap Smear campaigns throughout the
country in 2006.

      We also have a very established civil society network that promotes
the welfare and self-reliance of the community, and in particular to be gate-
keepers of their own health; despite of, or the reality that a health insurance
scheme is not available.

      I sincerely hope that Malaysia’s experiences will be useful to all
delegates at this 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual
Health. I understand that the Conference programme also includes visits for
field experiences and a number of you will be at the NPFDB’s Complex
KASIH Keluarga Shah Alam, which is one of the participating clinics in the
UNFPA pilot project. I wish you all a good time.

Distinguished Guests and Participants:

      The Asia Pacific is a vast region, covering a huge geographical area
with diversities in politics, ideology, ethnicity, religion, culture, socio-
economic development and technological advancement. It has 3.95 billion
people, representing two-thirds of the world’s 6.4 billion population, about
30 percent located in China and India. Poverty is still a critical concern
where over 640 million people live under US$1 per day.        The spread of
HIV/AIDS is on the rise, with more than 7.6 million people currently living
with HIV/AIDS.   High population density, poor infrastructure, inadequate
health delivery services and unemployment are common amongst the less
developed and poor countries. Exploitation of children in the labour market
and human trafficking are also rising concerns. Given the low status of
women, gender-based violence and gender discrimination still prevail.
Extreme poverty has also contributed to cross border migration where legal
and undocumented migrants exist and often, are marginalized.

      However, there are also countries in the Asia Pacific region that enjoy
rapid socio-economic growth and technological advancement.            They are
also experiencing steady decline in fertility rate and an ageing population.
Initiatives and interventions are being undertaken to arrest these emerging
issues. Hence, we do have enough materials and experiences to share and
learn and engage more actively in a south-south cooperation effort.

      You congregate here today, at the 3rd APCRSH because you are
deeply and truly concerned about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
You will be deliberating a comprehensive and well-thought agenda where

you will take stock of progress made in sexual and reproductive health and
rights, assess the challenges and emerging issues, share best practices and
identify realistic strategies and actions to reach out to all communities.

      In order to attain the goals of ICPD, FWCW and the MDGs, studies and
experiences have shown that a multi-faceted approach works best.
However, there remain critical challenges that we must continue to pursue.
Promoting gender equality and empower women is a “must”. We need to
honour reproductive rights, eradicate gender gaps that limit the girl child
and women’s social and economic development and empowerment, and
eradicate violence such as domestic violence, trafficking, honour killing,
forced pregnancy and rape. Provision of comprehensive sexual and
reproductive health services has to be made available, accessible,
affordable and in user-friendly environment for women, men and young

      Your coming together signifies the importance of reaffirming issues
and concerns, sharing what works best and remain committed to putting
words into actions – be they advocacy work, programmatic or management
strategies and activities to further enhance sexual and reproductive health
and rights to reach out to all communities. We will only succeed when all of
us from the laypersons to politicians are involved and remain united and
committed in our efforts.

      I would like to take the opportunity to again thank the organizers for
inviting me to present the opening address. The theme of the Conference,
“Expanded and Comprehensive Response in Sexual and Reproductive
Health and Rights For All Communities” is indeed a well-chosen one, given
the fact that people matters and individuals count. Looking at all of you, I
can see your enthusiasm and commitment to contribute towards improving
the quality of life of peoples whom you work with. I also look forward to

receiving the Declaration of the Conference and wish each and every one of
you every success in the deliberations to come.                  Despite the hectic
schedule, do find time to enjoy the Malaysian way of life.

        I   now      officially   declare   this   Conference   on   “Expanded   and
Comprehensive Response in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for
All Communities” open.

Thank you.

17 October 2005/8 Nov 2005 Rev


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