Earlier today we held our panel event with UNFPA at the Helmsley Hotel. To say it was a success would be a major understatement. We seemed to be cramming more and more people into an already packed room that was already heaving with high level dignitaries, including Ministers from Namibia, Nigeria and elsewhere, the First Lady of Georgia, MPs and senior civil servants from a wide range of countries. Even the Holy See came along to check out the speeches, all of which were great.
Fortunately, the hotel asked us yesterday if we wouldn’t mind moving to a larger room – and thank goodness they did. We were truly packed out and had around 140 people squeeze into a room meant for 100. It was cosy.
Oh yes, the hotel wanted our room as they were expecting Hilary Clinton along with the Presidents of Honduras and El Salvador to speak later that morning. And yes, I did sneak in for a while and listen to her speak. Who wouldn’t?
As for the speakers at our event Michael Cashman MEP gave a truly impassioned speech about the hypocrisies that cause people to live in fear. He directed his ire at the ‘men in frocks’ who have so much influence yet so little knowledge when it comes to reproductive health and who perpetuate the supply of false information such as ‘condoms don’t protect’ that directly leads to the deaths of so many. It was Thoraya Obaid however who spoke first and she addressed the assembled guests with the usual authority and insight that you would expect. Samuel Kissi of the Curious Minds NGO in Ghana spoke next and focused our attention on the need to ensure youth were engaged in PRSP processes. Gill Greer spoke with passion and insight on the theme of Universal access to reproductive health of adolescent girls and young women while Priscilla Vera Hernandez gave a brief analysis of the Youth Summit in Mexico. Naturally, the event was excellently moderated by our dear colleague Maria Antonieta Alcalde of IPPF WHR
This was a very successful event and much of it is due to our dear colleagues at both IPPF/WHR including Mirellise and Emily, and Prateek at UNFPA, with whom it was a real pleasure to organize this event