UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Nafis Sadik, a Pakistani physician and women’s health and rights advocate who spearheaded a landmark action plan adopted by 179 countries at the 1994 United Nations Population Conference, is 93 years old. died four days before her birthday, her son said late Monday.
Omar Sadik said his mother died of natural causes at his New York home on Sunday night.
Nafis Sadik joined the United Nations Population Fund in 1971, became Assistant Executive Director in 1977, and was appointed Executive Director in 1987 after the sudden death of Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cueral Rafael Salas. it was done. She was the first woman to lead a major voluntarily funded United Nations programme.
In June 1990, Perez de Cuellar appointed Sadik Secretary-General of the Fifth United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, and she became the architect of its landmark action plan. She manages reproductive and sexual health and chooses whether or not to conceive.
The Cairo conference also agreed on a set of goals, including universal primary education in all countries by 2015, which has yet to be achieved. It also failed to expand women’s access to secondary and tertiary education. It also set goals to reduce child and maternal mortality and to provide access to reproductive and sexual health services, including family planning.
While the conference broke taboos on discussing sexuality, it fell short of acknowledging that women have the right to control decisions about when to have sex and when to get married.
Natalia Kanem, the current Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, called Sadik “a proud champion of choice and a tireless advocate for women’s health, rights and empowerment.”
“Her bold vision and leadership in Cairo set the world on an ambitious path,” she said, a journey that followed the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995 and has since 2000. , followed by the adoption of the United Nations Development Goals, including achieving gender equality and many global issues. Cairo Action Plan.
Since Cairo, Kanem said, “Millions of girls and young women have grown up knowing that their bodies are theirs and that their future lies within.”
At a women’s conference in Beijing, held one year after Cairo, Sadik told delegates:
“Reproductive rights include more than the right to reproduce,” she said. “It involves supporting women in non-reproductive activities and, in effect, liberates them from values that claim that reproduction is their sole function.”
After retiring from the Population Fund in 2000, Sadik served as Special Advisor to the Executive Director and Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sadik will be remembered “for her significant contributions to women’s health and rights, population policy and her tireless efforts to combat HIV/AIDS”. He consistently drew attention to the importance of addressing women’s needs and of directly involving women in the formulation and implementation of development policies, which is particularly important for population policies and programs. She believed there was.”
Born in Jaunpur, British-ruled India, Nafis Sadik was the daughter of Ifat Ala and former Minister of Finance of Pakistan, Muhammad Shoaib. From 1954 she started working in the women’s and children’s wards of the Pakistan Military Hospital until 1963, after she obtained her medical degree from Dow Medical College in Karachi. The following year, she was appointed head of the health department of the Government Planning Commission.
In 1966, Sadik joined the Central Family Planning Council of Pakistan, the government agency responsible for implementing the National Family Planning Programme. She was promoted to Executive Director in 1970.
She also did an internship in gynecology and obstetrics at Baltimore City Hospital and continued her medical education at Johns Hopkins University.
Sadik has 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
“Mama loved the way she lived her life. Wide open, welcoming, wonderful, incredibly generous, gracious, giving. Always and in every way.” Omar Sadik said. “Our house was never big, but Mom always found ways to make it feel endless, accommodating anyone who needed a bed, couch, food, and family.”
“She transcended age and time and was loved by people much older than her, as well as by small children – because they recognized her heart,” he said. “She can probably spend more time in a day than most of us do in a year. She was one of a kind and one of a kind.”