Welcome to this important ceremony.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Population Award. Today we celebrate three decades of recognizing individuals and organizations for raising awareness of population questions – and finding solutions.
Population dynamics are central to sustainable development.
We are now at a critical moment. We are in the final stretch of our campaign to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. And we are working to shape a vision for the post-2015 development agenda.
This is a once-in-a-generation chance to define how to deliver a more equal, more sustainable world for the 7 billion people who share it – and the 8 billion people projected to inhabit the planet by 2030.
Population is not a matter of numbers. It is all about people – the choices that they make and the choices they are able to make.
We must empower individuals. We must protect their freedom, ability and right to make informed decisions. This will enable people to fulfil their potential. And that will advance whole societies.
Today we honour people and groups who are saving lives and supporting progress in public health.
I applaud Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, this year’s winner in the individual category.
He has been a strong advocate for reproductive health throughout his distinguished career. Dr. Musinguzi is respected by his peers. And his views have been heard by political leaders around the world.
Dr. Musinguzi has impressive credentials. He was Director of Uganda’s Population Secretariat. He also served as Regional Director of Partnership in Population and Development for Africa. And he was President of the Uganda Medical Association.
But I am personally most grateful to Dr. Musinguzi for his work in drafting the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and contributing to the negotiations on the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr. Musinguzi once pledged his commitment to “promote reproductive rights, provide reproductive health programmes, empower women, involve men and protect human rights.” I fully support these goals.
I congratulate Dr. Musinguzi. I count on him to continue advocating for reproductive health as a major component of development.
I also congratulate this year’s institutional laureate, the International Islamic Centre for Population Studies and Research.
As part of Al-Azhar University, this Centre is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the Muslim world.
It is well-regarded among Muslim communities as a reliable and credible source of information.
The Centre, which integrates population research, family planning and bioethics, works in all parts of the Islamic world, and in Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries.
I particularly applaud the Centre’s work to eradicate the deplorable practice of female genital mutilation or cutting.
I also commend its essential work to dispel misconceptions about Islam through seminars, summits and workshops.
Please join me in congratulating our winners. Their important contributions are advancing our goal of peace, development and respect for human dignity.
I hope both laureates accept this Award as a symbol of our collective commitment to building a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.