This week, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) published Substantive Equality and Reproductive Rights: A Briefing Paper on Aligning Development Goals with Human Rights Obligations, a new resource offering guidance on how governments can ensure that principles of substantive equality, including human rights principles and obligations, are reflected in the post-2015 development agenda.
Substantive equality calls for states to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, ensure equality for all, and promote accountability for rights violations. The paper contends that violations of reproductive rights are primarily manifestations of discrimination, poverty, and violence. Therefore, where women’s rights to equality and nondiscrimination are not fulfilled, their ability to access reproductive health services and make meaningful choices about their reproductive lives is limited.
Substantive equality provides a framework for recognizing and addressing the root causes of discrimination that result in gender inequality. Under a sustainable development goal on health, international human rights norms require that targets and indicators promote gender equality and ensure that health services are accessible, acceptable, available, and of high quality—the four elements that underlie the right to health.
The document provides guidance to states for how they can ensure that gender equality and reproductive rights are fully respected, protected, and fulfilled in the post-2015 agenda. In regard to reproductive health and rights-related targets, CRR offers a compendium of indicators for States to achieve the goal of all women having “meaningful access, including financial access, to acceptable, available, and quality sexual and reproductive health information and services.” Sample indicators are categorized within the “respect, protect, fulfill” framework (see box), a few examples of which include:
Respect: Reproductive health services and information are legal and provided without discrimination.
- Are comprehensive reproductive health care services and information available in all regions, to people of all ages, and in all relevant languages, including in accessible formats?
- Has the state enacted regulations on service providers to ensure that comprehensive, medically accurate information is available and accessible to all women and that services are available with informed consent and free from coercion, discrimination, or violence?
Protect: States have implemented regulations to protect reproductive rights, including when services are provided by nonstate actors.
- Has the state established a regulatory framework and monitoring mechanism for private health care providers?
- Does the state regulate private medical insurance providers and private employers to ensure that women are able to access a comprehensive range of reproductive health services for free or at low cost?
Fulfill: Reproductive health services are accessible, acceptable, available, and of high quality for all women, particularly from marginalized groups.
- How many health centers provide the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion?
- Has the state established a process for seeking feedback from women accessing health care services?
- Are women able to seek administrative or judicial remedies for violations of reproductive rights, including their access to information and comprehensive services?
Click here to read the full paper.