Sexual rights on the agenda

Daily Links at CSW | Issue 5 | Monday, 8 March 2010

As the US delegation circulated a resolution on maternal mortality at the Beijing+15 review Friday, activists from around the globe called on governments to accompany this with strong language on sexual and reproductive rights.

According to Maria Antonieta Alcalde of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Latin America desk, the narrow focus on maternal health ignores the root causes of why so many women die at child birth, including early marriages, botched illegal abortions, and poor sexual and reproductive health advisory services.

"When you only target maternal mortality it's as though the only thing women want is not to die," she told a lunch forum. "Women also want access to sexual and reproductive health services and information that empowers them to make choices."

Stressing that this had been a tough battle in the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she said a resolution that only dealt with maternal health ignored key contextual and rights based arguments. Clause 5b of the MDGs enhances the commitment to reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio by committing states to achieve, universal access to reproductive health services.

"The resolution should include comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health services, not just preventing maternal mortality," she said. While it is understandable that governments are now anxious about not achieving the MDG goal on reducing maternal mortality with the ten-year review coming up in September, the Beijing+15 review must be used to press home the twin demand for sexual and reproductive rights she declared amid applause.

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