Human Rights Must Include Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
By Sofia Gruskin, Director, Program on Global Health & Human Rights
at the University of Southern California Institute for Global Health
December 10, 2014
Today is Human Rights Day. In reflecting on the theme for this year — Human Rights 365, encompassing
the idea that every day is and should be Human Rights Day — we are reminded that even with the tremendous progress we have made, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a world where each one of us, everywhere, at all times, is entitled to our full
range of human rights. Focusing on supporting the rights and health needs for the most vulnerable or disadvantaged, including adolescent girls, is critical to achieving equitable and sustainable development gains. In no area is this more true than in relation
to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights often generate strong opinions steeped unfortunately not in evidence
but in social values, ideology, religion and morality. Why does this matter? Human rights are critical to the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, and there is a long history of uneven progress especially when it comes to the ability of girls
and women to control their fertility. More than 225 million girls and women around the word have an unmet for modern contraception. In developing regions, more than half of reproductive-age women want to avoid a pregnancy. And levels of unmet need for modern
contraception are highest among the poorest girls and women. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 73% of the women in the lowest wealth quintile want to avoid pregnancy and have an unmet need in comparison to 46% of women in the wealthiest quintile.
On Human Rights Day, our attention must be on how we ensure that health services do not discriminate in access
to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services for all people, including particularly vulnerable groups, such as young people, people living with HIV, ethnic minorities, sex workers, and transgender populations. Clear articulation of human
rights norms and standards can ensure improvements in the quality of services provided, that health facilities and services are non-discriminatory and of good quality from the outset, and that accountability mechanisms are in place, which give proper attention
to marginalized and discriminated-against populations.
As final negotiations wrap for the post-2015 development framework, it’s more important than ever to ensure
the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women are not forgotten.
This Human Rights Day, let’s remember that sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to the
lives of women, families, communities, and our world 365 days per year.
See more at: http://unfoundationblog.org/human-rights-must-include-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights/#sthash.6ux1Vh5L.dpuf