Men must accept women as equals if development goals are to be achieved
Men must learn what gender equality means and stop trying to control women's lives if future development goals are to have any real traction, the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Monday.
Speaking at a side event at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UNFPA, said existing power structures are preventing women from exercising their rights, which will undermine the impact of the next set of sustainable development goals.
At an event organised by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Osotimehin said: "Why is it possible for men to have access to condoms without any question, but when it comes to providing contraception to women and girls, the whole world comes against you? It's about power. Men want to determine what women do and tell them what to do and how to do it. That must stop. Men must learn to accept gender equality."
He added that women's rights and gender equality should not be separated. "Implicit in [achieving] gender equality is rights. Going forward, human rights must be the basis of the agenda."
Opening the event, which discussed the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights to the development agenda after 2015, when the millennium development goals expire, Carmen Barroso, a regional director for IPPF, told a packed auditorium that if the vision of a world free of poverty and inequality was to be realised, securing women's sexual and reproductive rights "is not only important in itself, but essential".
"From decades of experience we know that women and adolescent girls who have control over their sexuality are healthier in childbirth. We know if they control their sexuality, they are more likely to complete education and improve the economy of themselves and their families," she said.