(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Marking the 20th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed on the importance of women's right to sexual and reproductive health.
Sexual and reproductive rights mean a lot for thousands of women and adolescent girls. These rights include delivering safely; rights in case of an unintended adolescent pregnancy and the possibility of pursuing an education and an autonomous life. It also includes the ability of any individual, irrespective of their social condition, personal identity or status, to enjoy a safe and satisfying sexual life without fear of sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections or socially transmitted prejudice.
Improvements in access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services over the last two decades have triggered sustained changes in the lives of countless women, girls, men and boys.
From Nepal to South Africa to Colombia, and in many other parts of the world, we have seen how removing legal curns and challenging discriminatory social norms have enabled millions of people, mostly adolescent girls and young women, to access basic social services from which they were excluded not so long ago. Civil society has demanded change and held governments accountable when public services did not meet minimum standards of quality, or when their voices were disregarded.
Despite unquestionable progress, however, we are reminded every day that gross inequalities persist and that for many women and girls, ethnic and religious minorities and other persons perceived to be different from the rest, speaking up is a dangerous option.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are universal human rights. They are an indivisible part of the broader human rights and development equation. Their particular power resides in the fact that they deal with the most intimate aspects of our identities as individuals and enable human dignity, which is dependent on control of our bodies, desires and aspirations. Their empowering force starts in the home and goes on to the community, national and international levels, added the statement.The world conference which was held in 1993 had sparked a renewed effort to promote and protect human rights.
In Vienna, world leaders had affirmed that women's rights are indeed human rights, and they placed discrimination and acts of violence against women at the forefront of the human rights discourse.
The following year, in 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo, underscored Vienna's message and emphasised that sexual and reproductive health and rights should be at the centre of population and development policies. This human rights-based approach guides UNFPA's work to this day.
As the world defines the post-2015 development architecture, the agendas set forth in Cairo and Vienna are as relevant and mutually reinforcing today as they were 20 years ago. Keeping the promises made by the United Nations Member States two decades ago C to promote and protect all human rights, and to ensure universal enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights C is the surest route to a life of dignity and well-being for all people everywhere, a world where everyone is empowered to contribute to and share equally in the benefits of development, a world where everyone counts.