EWL News

NGOs applaud UN recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as human rights

[Brussels, 05 July 2013] On 01 and 02 July 2013, two United Nations organisations, UNECE and UNFPA (see below), organised the regional conference “Enabling choices: population priorities for the 21st century” at the United Nations in Geneva. The European Women’s Lobby is pleased to see that the outcomes of the conference, compiled in the Chair’s summary, include strong language about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and clear links between gender equality, an end to violence against women and the enjoyment of SRHR for all.

In particular, recommendations of the meeting include the promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights, as essential to achieving gender equality, social justice and sustainable development. The Chair also calls for zero tolerance for gender based violence and call for measures to criminalize violence against women and girls and provide all victims/survivors of gender-based violence with access to critical services. The EWL however regrets that no in-depth discussion is taking place on the impact of prostitution on sexual health and rights, and on the links between gender equality, prostitution and SRHR; the outcome document indeed mentions “sex work”, using a new language that does not refer to current international agreements such as the UN 1949 Convention.

More than 200 participants from governmental authorities, including high-level officials, academia and civil society organizations, as well as members of national parliaments and other national and international stakeholders, gathered during two days to review the progress that has been made towards achieving the goals and objectives of the Programme of Action agreed upon at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 (ICPD PoA).

Many NGOs are already mobilizing to advocate for a strong new agenda on population and development. On 3 and 4 July, NGOs were invited to discuss how to improve the situation in the European region and ensure that the challenges of the region are well represented within the global discussions. The meeting was called "ICPD Beyond 2014 – From Promise to Action, CSOs Defining the Way Forward".

The meeting was organized by IPPF European Region and co-hosted by the European Women’s Lobby and ASTRA Network and gathered 70 representatives of NGOs from all over the broad Europe region, from Macedonia to Portugal, Israel to Tajikistan. NGOs shared concerns about the situation in their region and discussed strategies for ways forward. EWL Policy Officer and Project Coordinator Pierrette Pape delivered a presentation about challenges regarding SRHR in Europe and the importance for NGOs to be involved in the discussions around the new development agenda (so-called ‘post-2015 agenda’). You can see her presentation here.

Background:

In 1994, 179 countries met in Cairo for the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The Conference adopted a 20-year Programme of Action (POA), which acknowledged gender equality, eliminating violence against women and the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services as cornerstones of population and development policies. As the programme’s twenty year anniversary approaches, the UN General Assembly passed resolution A/65/234 (2010) that established the roadmap for achieving the vision of ICPD beyond 2014. The resolution mandates that UNFPA—in cooperation with relevant UN agencies, international organizations, institutions and experts—undertake an operational review of the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA). A key outcome from the review will be a special report with recommendations for action from the UN Secretary General to be presented to the UN Conference on Population and Development in 2014.

To find out more

NGOs beyond 2014: The NGOs beyond 2014, which is run by the Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat) aims to provide NGOs with information on the 20-year review of progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which was agreed at in Cairo in 1994. It will provide information on ICPD beyond 2014, as the UN General Assembly has already extended the time for the implementation of the ICPD. The website will also provide a ‘space’ for NGOs to discuss issues related to the 20-year review and for plans for moving forward…

ICPD Beyond 2014: the official website for the United Nations review of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action

UNECE – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: “UNECE’s major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. To do so, it brings together 56 countries located in the European Union, non-EU Western and Eastern Europe, South-East Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and North America.”

UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund: “UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

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