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Women’s rights in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
August 9, 2015, 5:18 pm

On Sunday, 3 August, with the conclusion of the final Intergovernmental Negotiations for the post-2015 development framework, world governments have finalized the new development framework titled ‘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, scheduled for the 25 to 27 September, 2015.

At their gathering, representatives of world governments 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 fully implemented, this agenda is expected to save millions of lives.

Although it represents a big leap forward, the words must become action said Tewodros Melesse, Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the leading global organization that aims to improve the quality of life of individuals by providing and campaigning for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Mr. Melesse added: “Today we welcome the commitment that governments are making to put women and girls first, including realizing 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.”

Elaborating on the 2030 Agenda, Mr. Melesse said: “The 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 fulfillment of their reproductive rights.”

The 2030 Agenda 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.

However, he pointed out that, 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.

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 programs, 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.

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