UNFPA Report Addresses Economic Inequality and the Intersection with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

European Union Pledges 500 Million Euros Towards Gender Equality Fund

(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights commends the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for addressing economic inequality and the intersection with sexual and reproductive health and rights in the 2017 edition of its State of the World Population report.

Worlds Apart focuses on the economic impact of gender inequalities and other disparities in realizing sexual and reproductive health and rights. UNFPA explicitly connects the failure to provide reproductive health services to the poorest women with weakened economic development and inhibited progress towards eliminating poverty worldwide. The report notes that limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually. This not only harms women’s health, but also restricts women's ability to join or stay in the paid labor force and move towards financial independence. UNFPA calls on the global community to take a range of actions to address inequalities, including calling on states to meet all their human rights commitments and obligations, fulfill the unmet need for family planning, provide standard social protections, ensure girls’ access to education, adopt policies that support women’s participation in the workforce and eliminate laws, policies and norms that hinder women and girls from accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Said Rebecca Brown, director of global advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Every woman deserves the ability to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health services so she can make decisions about her body and her life.

“The realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to gender equality and economic empowerment by ensuring women and girls can stay in school, continue their employment and negotiate personal relationships.

"States must confront the impacts of all disparities, including gender inequality, and create human rights based social policies to enable women and girls to realize their full potential."

In the last few months, the Center for Reproductive Rights has released two groundbreaking reports that focus on the women and girls who have been left furthest behind. The first, Capacity and Consent: Empowering Adolescents to Exercise their Reproductive Rights, presents  barriers that adolescents face in realizing their sexual and reproductive health and rights, discusses recent critical developments in the human rights framework underpinning these rights, and proposes a way forward for guaranteeing all adolescents the full exercise of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The second, a briefing paper entitled Ensuring Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls Affected by Conflict analyzes existing legal standards and principles relevant to protecting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls affected by conflict.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights, which include the provision of abortion services, sit at the core of addressing economic, gender and social inequalities for women and girls. The Center for Reproductive Rights calls on the international community to support the recommendations in the UNFPA report, and repeal discriminatory laws and policies, such as those restricting access to or criminalizing abortion, that entrench gender inequality and prevent women and girls from exercising their reproductive freedom.  The Center also calls on UN agencies, including UNFPA, to further integrate the critical importance of access to safe and legal abortion services in its work and 2018 report, reflecting wide-ranging evidence of its impact on the lives of girls and women.