Commission on Population and Development Champions Reproductive Health and Rights for Sustainable Development

This past weekend, national governments called for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of the emerging sustainable development framework at the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development.

The Commission’s meeting marks 20 years since the historic agreements made at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. Despite considerable gains, the gathered leaders recognized that gaps remain in fulfilling commits to equitable and universal access to quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services and in particular sexual health care services.

This meeting took place at a crucial juncture. The Millennium Development Goals are set to expire in 2015 and decisions are being made about what the new post-2015 goals should represent in order to achieve truly sustainable and equitable health outcomes and development.

Pathfinder International applauds the Commission’s emphasis on reproductive health and rights and gender equality, as well as the need to address gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation. We are excited by the inclusion of language recognizing the importance of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including for adolescents and youth with respect for their privacy and confidentiality free of discrimination. We appreciate the addition of language to intensify efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention and AIDS care and treatment.

And, we recognize the importance of calling on governments to train and equip health service providers to ensure that abortion is safe and accessible where legal. It is imperative that these issues are integrated into the new development framework.

While many countries took a vocal stance to promote the advancement of sexual rights during the Commission’s meeting, a small group blocked language on sexual rights from making the final agreement

“Worldwide, there is a dire need to address discrimination and violence pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity. As such, it is regrettable that some countries chose to block sexual rights language from the Commission’s document,” said Pathfinder President Purnima Mane. “We will continue to advocate for those rights to be explicitly addressed in the post-2015 development agenda and support the Commission’s recommendation that sexual and reproductive health and rights become a crucial part of the new goals.”

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