Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the 21st Century


World leaders gathered in The United Nations Headquarters in New York this last September 22nd to commemorate twenty years since the adoption of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The ICPD transformed the world’s thinking about sustainable development, in particular the fundamental rights and freedoms of women and girls to have control over their sexual and reproductive lives.

This programme is the product of analysis from governments around the world, the findings of experts and researchers, and contributions from the UN system and civil society. It aims to end the deaths of 800 women and girls that happen every day from causes related to pregnancy, sexual abuse, and malnutrition, among others.

Furthermore, it aims to end the HIV pandemic and reduce the 2,400 new cases of HIV that occur every day among youth alone; to ensure that young people have the information, education, and services they need to make informed choices about their sexuality and avoid all forms of violence and abuse.

All of these global challenges can be effectively addressed through strengthened political will and leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The price of inaction weighs heavily on individuals, their families, societies, and economies. It drains people of their health, productivity, and full potential; it overwhelms health systems and saps public budgets.