A win for women and girls; Now words must become action

3rd August 2015
mother and child

The governments of the world have committed to making sure that every girl and woman can live free from discrimination and have access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights within one generation. When implemented, this agenda will save millions of lives.

On Sunday, August 3rd, with the conclusion of the final Intergovernmental Negotiations for the post-2015 development framework, governments have finalized the new development framework “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. It is expected that this final agreement will be formally adopted at the United Nations Summit on the post-2015 development agenda on September 25 to 27, 2015.

But although it represents a big leap forward, the words must become action. Tewodros Melesse, Director General of IPPF said: “Today we welcome the commitment that governments are making to put women and girls first, including realising their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. If we want this new agenda to change lives – and save lives – it must become a reality on the ground. We are calling on all governments to implement this agenda and ensure that there is adequate funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights and to make the ambition of this agenda a reality.”

This Agenda is a win for women and girls. It makes a commitment to ending poverty and protecting the health of the planet, as well as setting out an ambitious agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The goals and targets require every country to take measures to reduce maternal mortality, end HIV, eliminate violence against women and harmful traditional practices, and ensure that everyone has access to Universal Health Coverage,  access to sexual and reproductive health care services and the fulfilment of their reproductive rights. It will ensure that the 225 million women who want to, but cannot, access modern contraception will be able to finally make decisions about their families, their bodies and their futures.  It will help end early and forced marriage, which currently sees 15 million girls married before their 18th birthdays every year.

We also welcome the reaffirmation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action; and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+ 20”), including their follow-up conferences, as these are foundational documents upon which the agenda is built.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also specifically mentioned as the basis of the new agenda, which further strengthens its people-centered focus.

However, the new Agenda fails to define specific accountability mechanisms to promote the full implementation of the agenda and to provide citizens with the tools to hold governments to account for their actions. It is also disappointing that the essential role of civil society participation in planning, implementation and accountability was not stronger.

IPPF also called for the inclusion of sexual rights in the final document, however the specific wins in the final 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that IPPF successfully advocated for include:

  • A standalone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including specific targets on eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls, and ending early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. This goal also contains a target on ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.
  • A standalone goal on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being. This contains a commitment to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes, as well as reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, and ending the epidemic of HIV.
  • A Declaration that emphasized the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a crucial contribution to progress across all goals and targets. It also emphasized the fundamental role of human rights and the responsibility of States to work to realize human rights for all.