The promotion, protection and fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are currently experiencing marked resistance around the world, despite growing evidence of their importance.
To draw attention to this contradiction, high-level international bodies issued a public statement. The Scientific Technical Advisory Group and the Gender and Rights Advisory Panel of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction highlight issues that contribute to women’s harm globally:
- sustained lack of sufficient funding
- stigmatisation of users and providers of sexual and reproductive health services
- continued support for harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation
- pairing down of legislation that protects women’s rights
- tolerance of violence against women and girls
- increasing restrictions on access to, and provision of, scientifically accurate sexual and reproductive health information, including comprehensive sexuality education
- unnecessary restrictions on the availability of contraceptive methods
- imposition of legal barriers, such as third party consent requirements, to sexual and reproductive health services
“Women are suffering globally – we must act now!”
Signed by an independent body of scientists from diverse countries, cultures and disciplines – including Prof James Hargreaves, one of STRIVE’s team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – the statement calls on the international community, individual governments and the private sector to protect everyone’s right to the highest attainable standards of sexual and reproductive health. Research confirms economic arguments: investment in SRHR pays dividends, not only in terms of lives saved but also in reduced government expenditure on maternal health, water, sanitation, education and housing. Signatories emphasise the critical need to safeguard progress to date and promote independent research, evidence and implementation.
The Guardian published a short version of the statement in the form of a letter.