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Diana Nyambura is getting a head start on the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a month before it commences in her hometown of Nairobi.

Diana represented Kenya at the Youth Model ICPD, held in Cairo on October 16-17.

The conference brought together over 200 young people from over 50 countries, giving them a chance to simulate the iconic conference that took place in Cairo in 1994, which saw the adoption of the Program of Action.

The conference offered young people an opportunity to combine and share unique insights to advance the ICPD agenda, highlighting their role in working to ensure the full and accelerated implementation of the ICPD Program of Action. 

Delegates elected their own secretary general, deputy secretary general and rapporteurs.

Delegates elected their own secretary general, deputy secretary general and rapporteurs to lead the two-day conference.

For Diana, the participation in the conference carries a different weight.

“I was born in September 1994, the same month the ICPD was held, so it’s really significant for me to be here 25 years later to see the progress that was made,” she says.

The 25-year-old is a general practitioner and says the progress made is especially relevant to her.

“I am really grateful for programs like ICPD that make it possible for me as a woman to be where I am today,” Diana explains.

Working in the health sector, Diana says she is especially interested in working with adolescents on reproductive health issues.

“I like to empower people to know their rights when it comes to sexual and reproductive health,” she says.

On the first day of the conference, country delegates presented progress made since 1994 in their respective countries on certain topics.

Diana’s delegation tackled progress made with regards to adolescents and demographic dividend in Kenya. She explains that with 75 percent of her country’s population being young, the country’s growth potential is boundless.

The delegates generated commitments throughout the conference, on topics related to sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, child marriage, among others.

The commitments were formulated and unanimously adopted, ready to be presented to the Nairobi Summit during the concurrent session on the Youth Model ICPD as global youth commitments. 

With that, Diana is ready to represent young people at the Nairobi Summit.

“It’s beautiful that it is hosted in Nairobi,” she boasted, “Every time I think about it I get goosebumps, we need to bring life to it and bring all the excitement to Nairobi.”

Zhu Wenyuan took a 14-hour flight from China to participate at the Youth Model ICPD in Cairo.

“I think the ICPD issues revolve around the youth and that’s why their voices should be heard,” she says.

Zhu says that the conference allows young people to share experiences from their respective countries and exchange ideas.

Back home, she conducts peer-to-peer education to raise awareness around sexual and reproductive health issues and gender equality.

Diana Nyambura represented Kenya at the Youth Model ICPD.

Purba Tyagi, represented the United States at the conference. She had just gotten her master’s degree in human rights law and says she found herself “gravitating towards gender-based violence,” on which she wrote her dissertation.

The 25-year-old says she thought the Youth Model ICPD was relevant to her field of interest and especially liked that it was “youth-focused.”

“I like that I don’t feel like I’m the youngest person in the room,” she says, “I feel like I’m on the same level as everybody else.”

During the second day of the conference, which focused on creative learning, delegates were divided into five workshops held simultaneously and translated the commitments into creative forms. The workshops included theatre, film, dance and social media.

Purba says she was drawn to the art workshop. The workshop’s participants produced three paintings tackling population and development issues.

The workshop, she says, taught her how important collaboration is and how beautiful its result can be.

Purba is also returning to her country with several lessons from the conference.

“It has been an important experiencing how disparate people’s experiences are,” she explains, “and learning how to make a commitment with someone who doesn’t speak the same language or has different experiences has been really challenging and important for me.”

The art workshop’s participants produced three paintings tackling population and development issues.

Richard Tomhorbe also participated alongside Purba in the art workshop. He says he chose this workshop because “watching people painting gives him joy.”

Richard, who represented the Republic of Chad at the conference, wanted to participated in the Youth Model ICPD due to his interested in the topics it discussed and because it engages young people.

“It gathers young people and gives them the means to find solutions for the problems that they face,” he says.

The Model Youth ICPD’s Secretary General Sameh Kamel assured the delegates that their voices will be heard and the commitments they generated will be relayed to the Nairobi Summit.

For him, the model conference is a great learning experience. “We are learning what happens at the Nairobi Summit even we will not be there ourselves.”

Sameh, along with other delegates, participated in the global UNFPA campaign #IMarchFor, producing their own videos and commitments and taking the first steps to Nairobi.