Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Key to Achieving Sustainable Development

By Suzanne Petroni, Senior Director for Gender, Population, and Development at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Last month, the global community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The ICPD, which took place in Cairo in 1994, led to an historic agreement by 179 governments to place women—and importantly, their reproductive health—at the center of the sustainable development agenda. Five years later, while at the State Department, I served as the U.S. government’s “officer in charge” for the five-year review of the ICPD, where we exulted when the global community agreed to advance the ICPD agenda through promoting access to safe abortion, comprehensive sexuality education, and youth-friendly reproductive health services, among other critical areas.

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Missing Links: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda

On July 17, Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver, published “Working Hard to Get the World We Want: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights After 2015” on The Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood blog. In this post, Iversen reports on the work of the Open Working Group (OWG) for Sustainable Development Goals, which is comprised of representatives from 70 countries and tasked with the creation of a new global framework for development that they are set to present to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by the end of July. The influence of this report on the future of international development, sustainability, and human rights cannot be overstated.

The goals and targets it proposes—and the issues explicitly addressed—will be of utmost importance in the shaping of the post-2015 development agenda. Due to conservative push-back, Iversen decries, the current report language fails to include sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as the health of young people despite the fact that “the majority of governments have identified [SRHR] as a priority to get the world on a sustainable path.”

The blog post discusses the vital role that voluntary family planning and ensuring rights and contraceptive choices for women and girls play in ensuring equal opportunity, economic growth, and the development and maintenance of healthy populations. Iversen urges readers to take action and suggests ways to become involved in supporting the push for inclusion of SRHR in the forthcoming global development framework. Read this important post and join EngenderHealth, Women Deliver, and other organizations and individuals in the effort to make SRHR a priority in the post-2015 global development agenda and a reality for all.

Ensuring Human Rights–Based Goals in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

PictyureThis 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.

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Human Rights and the ICPD Beyond 2014

This past July, more than 300 participants representing governments, civil society organizations, youth networks, United Nations (UN) agencies, and human rights experts and defenders converged in the Netherlands for the International Conference on Human Rights: ICPD Beyond 2014. Hosted by the Government of The Netherlands, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, attendees addressed the links between human rights, equality, accountability, and population and development.

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Reviews of Evidence and Tools Support Rights-Based Family Planning Framework

In 2013, EngenderHealth and Futures Group published a new framework, Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework, that offers a holistic approach to realizing human rights as a part of voluntary, high-quality family planning (FP) services. The framework’s linkage of FP and human rights was informed and supported by systematic reviews of supporting evidence and available tools. The results of these reviews are now available in two companion papers:

Evidence paper CoverVoluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Evidence synthesizes the findings from a literature review of more than 290 relevant interventions, evaluations, and case studies, to engender a better understanding of the elements of a successful rights-based FP program. The report reviews the current evidence for rights-based FP and identifies practices that protect and fulfill the rights of clients and prospective FP users to achieve desired reproductive intentions.

Tools Paper CoverVoluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Tools presents an extensive review of 150 training and assessment tools, frameworks, methodologies, implementation guides, and job aids that support and promote the fulfillment of rights at the policy, service, community, and individual levels. Links to tools reviewed are provided to allow policymakers, program planners, and managers to access resources that will enable them to assess, design, implement, monitor, and evaluate rights-based FP programs.

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Championing Contraceptive Choice: Promoting and Protecting Rights beyond FP2020

Artwork by Sita Magnuson, The Value Web ®

Artwork by Sita Magnuson, The Value Web ®

The London Summit on Family Planning, which took place a year ago this month, kicked off a potentially new era for international family planning (FP). By focusing renewed attention, rallying political commitment, and garnering a substantial increase in pledged funding to support services, it raised FP on the global health and development agenda. The London Summit also reinvigorated the focus on human rights in FP programs, which coalesced in part around the concern that human rights could be sacrificed in the pursuit of the numerical goal of reaching 120 million new women and girls in the world’s poorest countries with FP information, services, and supplies by 2020 (known as FP2020). Attention to these issues has also been fueled by preparations to formulate the post-2015 development agenda that will follow the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Continue reading