Speech delivered by President Farmaajo at the International conference on population & development

His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the the First Lady
Your Majesty Royal Highness
Head of States and Governments
Distinguished guests

Excellences l, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and privilege to be addressing you on this important occasion of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development here in Nairobi. Thank you H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to me and my delegation. I recognise and thank all the organisers for their considerable effort and success in bringing us all together for this important gathering to evaluate where we are and where we need to be to realise the promises we made to advance the rights, wellbeing and development of our precious girls and women.

I am absolutely convinced that girls and women must be supported to play a full role in the development of their societies to make them truly sustainable, progressive and prosperous. Girls and women are friends, family, colleagues and fellow citizens whose contributions each and every human being benefits from. Therefore, supporting them through the promotion of public services, equality, justice and greater societal engagement and contribution within the policy-making circles is something my government is committed to.

Today, in a fast urbanising world, with great social and economic inequalities, including in public services, it is fundamental that we recognise there is still a long way to go to ensure that we implement the ICPD Program of Action to benefit all equally. In this interconnected globalised world, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. We must accept that we have common challenges in creating equitable economic growth, providing accessible public services and creating opportunities for the world’s young, most of whom are on the African continent. Therefore, it is paramount that we work together to find common solutions.

Essentially, partnership and burden sharing are the only ways we can ever achieve the sustainable development we seek by 2030.
Somalia has a young but growing population which is rapidly urbanising. Based on Somalia’s Population Estimation Survey in 2014, our population has grown nearly 3 folds in a period of four decades between 1975 to 2014. This is joined by over 2 million Diaspora living across the world. I always add the Somali Diaspora because they have played a crucial role in supporting their families, communities and country through some of the most difficult challenges in the past and they still have an enormous role to play in our national journey to sustainable development.

Population growth brings opportunities and challenges for Somalia and, as 70% of the population is under 30 years of age, there’s a real challenge to provide public services and opportunities in Somalia. Yet, we are cognizant of the need to urgently support our youth to turn our demographic dividend into stability and economic opportunities for all. Accordingly, our government is working tirelessly to achieve economic reforms to increase domestic resource mobilisation and grow the economy in a journey to achieving debt cancellation so that we can get access to concessionary financing from the International Financial Institutions to accelerate investment in public services, most particularly, education, skills, health and infrastructure which are most urgent.

The Somali Government is sincerely committed to reducing the overall maternal mortality rate across the country by no less than 25 percent by 2030 through the training and employment of 1,000 additional midwives. The high number of preventable maternal deaths in Somalia is saddening and devastating for mothers and families. Our government has worked hard to integrate tackling this matter into the National Development Plan and we intend to act upon it with the support of all our valuable partners. We fully recognise that a healthy mother, an educated daughter and responsive health services for them equals a better prosperous society.

Gender Based Violence in Somalia is a crime. Contrary to stereotypes, Somali women are truly loved, respected and appreciated as the cradle of our civilisation and existence. They are the backbone of our society and very existence. Violence against Girls and Women is illegal, abhorrent and, most certainly, not tolerable in any way shape or form by our government. Yet, we know that prosecutions and laws will not be enough to address this issue in all circumstances and our government is working with diverse partners to ensure education and training about the criminality and social harm of Gender Based Violence is understood by all.

In all our endeavours to create a better future for our Girls and Women, we must commit to strengthening partnerships to deliver on the key developmental priorities with knowledge exchange, experience sharing and financial assistance to countries like my own which are on the challenging but fruitful journey to economic recovery.

In conclusion, Somalia will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the health and well-being of its girls and women is given priority in the national development journey. Somali girls and women make up about half of the population and no nation can ever succeed with half of its most dynamic and productive citizenry marginalised, underserved or excluded. Therefore, supporting our girls and women equally is Somalia’s development plan and a good one it is.

I thank you all.