Universal access to reproductive health. In 1994, those five words became the centrepiece of a global consensus document, the so-called Cairo Consensus, garnering the support of 179 countries at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. Since that time, an international community of organizations and individuals has referred to the Cairo Consensus as the basis for increasing attention to, and funding for, sexual and reproductive health services around the world. Yet while these groups work diligently towards the goal of universal access, there is no agreement, some 13 years later, on what, precisely, universal access means.
The Summit Foundation, a family foundation based in Washington DC, learned this distressing fact when we established a new goal for our Global Population and Youth Leadership programme in 2005. As we sharpened our programme focus on the lives of young people throughout the developing world, we decided that our ultimate goal is to achieve universal access by young people to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. In simple terms, we believe that every young person who needs and wants such information and services should be able to access them.