South Africa’s Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has been elected to serve as Chairperson of the Partners in Population and Development (PPD).

The Minister was elected unanimously at the 25th annual board meeting of the PPD for a three-year term.

In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry of Social Development said the elective PPD Board meeting took place virtually due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

PPD is an inter-governmental organisation launched during the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that took place in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

It currently consists of 27 developing countries that collectively represent 60 percent of the world population, with the sole purpose to promote South-South Cooperation in the fields of reproductive health, population and development.

“Since the emphasis of South-South Cooperation is more on collaboration rather than competition, the key tenet is to ensure geographical and regional representation in its structures. This is clearly reflected in the election of the new Board, with Asia and the Pacific (AP, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), North Africa and the Middle East (MENA), and Latin America and the Caribbean being represented,” said the Ministry.

The full PPD Board is composed as follows:

PPD Board Chairperson:               Republic of South Africa

Vice Chairperson:                          The People’s Republic of China

PPD Board Secretary:                    Republic of Tunisia

PPD Board Treasurer:                    Republic of Indonesia

The Executive Committee Members are made up of the Republic of Benin, Republic of India, Republic of Kenya, and Republic of Mexico.

The Republic of Bangladesh has a Permanent Membership in the Executive Committee of the PPD Board.

The PPD has its headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and enjoys a Permanent Observer Status at the United Nations, New York.

South Africa is one of the leading member countries of PPD. 

The PPD hosted its 34th Annual Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday, followed by its 25th Board Meeting on Friday.

Tackling gender-based violence

Delivering her closing remarks at the PPD meeting, Zulu emphasised the need to continue shining the light at the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa and across the globe. 

“Gender-based violence and femicide still affects too many women, girls and LGBTIQA+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual and other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities] persons in our respective countries, which has been compounded by the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

The Minister said many people still do not enjoy their full sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly women and girls, as these issues are still regarded as taboo in some countries.

“Many of our people still face exclusion, even active discrimination and victimisation, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Our priority for the years ahead is to focus on the implementation of the commitments of the Nairobi Summit and ensure women and girls remain at the centre of Agenda 2030, and that none of them is left behind,” she said.

The work of the PPD is guided by the ICPD Programme of Action under the broad framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030).

Collective action

South-South Cooperation is premised on the understanding that developing countries stand to benefit when they work collectively to share technical expertise and resources to meet their development goals.

To achieve its overarching mission of promoting solidarity and collective action to address common development challenges, PPD engages in advocacy, policy dialogues, exchange programmes of information, best practices, research, training and technical cooperation amongst both member and non-member countries, amongst others.

In addition to her new role as the PPD Chairperson, Minister Zulu also serves as a member of the High-Level Commission comprising advocates, experts and activists that was established to help commitments to women’s health and rights made at the November 2019 Nairobi Summit.

One of the key goals of the High-Level Commission is to rally support to achieve “three zeros” – zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths, zero gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030.

Minister Zulu had previously served as the Secretary of the PPD’s board.

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