Thursday, 10 December 2020, the Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN, Ambassador Ion I. Jinga, chaired the United Nations Population Award Virtual Ceremony for the year 2020. The event was attended by Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General, who presented a message from the Secretary General, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Under Secretary-General, Executive Director of the UNFPA and Secretary of the Committee for the UN Population Award, ambassadors and diplomats.
The laureates of this year’s award are Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, Queen Mother of the Kingdom of Bhutan, in the” individual category”, and the non-governmental organization HelpAge India, represented by its President, Mr. Kiran Karnik, in the” institutional category”.
In his opening statement, the Romanian Ambassador recalled that the UN Population Award was established 39 years ago, in recognition of the importance of population and development issues, and underlined that: “Even as this global pandemic of COVID-19 disrupts economies, overwhelms health and social services, shutters businesses and triggers a spike in gender-based violence, governments and partners are signaling that their commitment to the health and rights of women and girls is unflagging”.
Stating the importance of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals with the aim of securing progress in the areas of human rights, health, women’s empowerment and education, he mentioned several examples of considerable achievements made during the 25 years since the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994: “The global percentage of young women who were married before age 18 has declined from 34 per cent in 1994 to 25 per cent 2019; the global fertility rate has declined from 3.2 births per women in 1990 to 2.5 per women in 2019; human life expectancy has increased by 7 years since 1994; maternal mortality has declined by 40 per cent since 1994, and poverty by half; primary school is now accessible to most children in the world, more than ever before”.
The UN Population Award represents the most prestigious award given annually in the UN system on this subject. Given the relevance of the activities of people and institutions that have been laureates since its creation, this award became a strong instrument for promoting awareness on population issues and for honoring significant contributions of individuals and institutions that have put their knowledge to the service of mankind, for the well-being of people and nations.