Sexual and reproductive rights

Source: Center for Reproductive Rights
The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world to criminalize abortion in all circumstances with no clear exceptions. As a consequence, women in the Philippines continue to die or suffer grave complications from unsafe abortion procedures, producing a massive and unnecessary public health crisis and violating the fundamental human rights of Filipino women. [see more]
The term "reproductive rights" is relatively recent: it was coined during the International Meeting on Women and Health in Amsterdam (1984). This event can be seen as the starting point of a long struggle waged by women's movements worldwide to expand the scope of the concept of human rights.

Almost a decade later, in 1993, at the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, participant States agreed to regard any violation of the specific rights of women as a human rights violation. The initiatives and participation of women in this Conference prompted a major shift in human rights theory, as at that point it was recognized that human rights can be enjoyed in private as well as in public, and thus can be violated in both spheres. In Vienna human rights were defined as universal, interdependent and indivisible.

Since the Vienna Conference women have been involved in several international events, contributing their research, proposals and demands, with the goal of consolidating and furthering what has been achieved thus far: Cairo in 1994, and Beijing in 1995, besides their engagement in regional and international networks and NGO forums, among others.

Throughout this process, the concept of human rights has undergone revisions and expansions. The agenda had been limited to abuses committed by the State, ignoring other spheres. Thus, the need to expand and redefine the social contract was posed -a contract from which women have been historically excluded, both in terms of its definitions and their condition as political subjects. Difference has always been construed as deficiency, and the result has always been inequality, an inequality requiring protection.

A lot of ground has been covered and progress continues to be made, but the road has not been free from obstacles. The Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly, known as "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace in the 21st Century", took stock of the advances made in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action's recommendations (WPA or Beijing + 5). There, tensions arose when conservative groups tried to prevent the final document from being adopted.

In spite of the difficulties, Beijing +5 closed an intense cycle of legitimation and visibility for the debate over unsafe abortion at a global level. Since then tensions have tended to be expressed domestically. International agreements bind signatory States, but that is not enough. Countries must pass the laws that are necessary to enable the enforcement of the commitments undertaken, which signatory countries still fail to observe for the most part.

Today there are new global political circumstances which affect the debate over reproductive health and pregnancy termination. The US Congress has pressed to include a conditionality clause with respect to development cooperation funds, aimed to prevent organizations that are in any way connected with pregnancy termination from accessing such funds. Financing from USAID is limited by this conditionality, having a regressive impact on the politics of the recipient countries of this agency's funds. This pressure is furthered by anti-abortion groups and conservative sectors of certain religions, thus placing at the top of the agenda the debate over laicism and democracy and the need to reassess the relationship between religion and State.

In this context, Uruguay's Reproductive Health Protection Bill -already approved by the lower chamber of parliament- marks an important step forward. Its significance lies in its holistic approach to reproductive health and in the fact that it promotes discussion on a regional level despite the current political climate describe above.
Imprimir   Enviar    Correct 
      Versión en español
Tuesday, September 07 2010
Forsaken lives: the harmful impact of the philippine criminal abortion ban
(Source: Center for Reproductive Rights)
Friday, January 22 2010
Lesbian Movements: Ruptures & Alliances
(Source: ILGA)
Monday, January 26 2009
Obama repeals global gag rule
(Source: Center for Health and Gender Equity)

Vienna 1993

World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 1993 (UNHCHR)

Article 38 - World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 1993

Beijing 1995

Global political circumstances

DAWN says no to negotiations for Beijing+10 and Cairo+10

A war declared against the rights of women: global obstruction (Lola Press)

Fundamentalisms and sexuality (Open Space India)

Roe vs. Wade under threat (AWID)

"Fundamentalisms" qualified (Third World Network Features)

Strategies of women and women's movements in the Muslim world vis a vis fundamentalisms: From entryism to internationali (Women Living Under Muslim Laws)

From anti-natalist to ultra-conservative: restricting reproductive choice in Peru (The Center for Health and Gender Equity)

Protocol on the rights of women in Africa: a pre-condition for health and food security (Pambazuka)

U.S. seeking to isolate UNFPA, critics warn (U.N. Wire)

Sexualities and sexual rights (WHRNet)

The dis-integration of U.S. global AIDS Funding (The Project Against the Present Danger)

The debate

Sexual rights, conceptual advances: tensions in debate

Women's Rights are Human Rights (Lola Press)

Fundamentalism and the Roman Catholic Church (Feminist Articulation Marcosur)

Whose sexuality counts? Poverty, participation and sexual rights (Institute of Development Studies - IDS)

Sexual Rights: Much has been said, much remains to be resolved (DAWN)

Abstinence only versus broad based sexual health promotion (Eldis)

Sexual and reproductive rights in the political arena

Abortion in the world

Forsaken lives: the harmful impact of the philippine criminal abortion ban (Center for Reproductive Rights)

Obama repeals global gag rule (Center for Health and Gender Equity)

World abortion policies 2007 (U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Population Division)

Abortion worldwide: twelve years of reform (Center for Reproductive Rights)

Related information

The application of Human Rights to reproductive and sexual health (ACPD)

Sexual and Reproductive Rights (WHRnet)

Sexuality and reproduction in the Universal and Inter-American Human Rights systems (Convención)

Coercive sterilisation of women (AWID)

Public choices, private decisions: sexual and reproductive health and the MDGs (UN Millennium Project)

New guide on sexual and reproductive rights (Eldis)

Breaking through: a guide to sexuality and reproductive health and rights (Centre for Reproductive Rights)

Networks and NGOs

Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network

Feminist Health Network - Rede Feminista de Saúde - (Brazil)

Feminist Articulation Marcosur (South America)

Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights - CLADEM

Amanitare (Africa)

Rainbo (Africa)

International Women Health Coalition (IWHC)

Center for Reproductive Rights (USA)

Foreign Policy in Focus (USA)

Lola Press

Cotidiano Mujer (Uruguay)

Red de Educación Popular Entre Mujeres - REPEM

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era - DAWN

Cairo 1994

Report of the International Conference on Population and Development - Cairo 1994 (UNFPA)

Chapter VII, paragraph 7.3, and Chapter VII, paragraph 8.25: Reproductive rights and health, morbidity and mortality

Follow-up of international treaties

Beijing +5 (United Nations)

Follow-up Project on the Implementation of the Programme of Action from the International Conference on Population and D (Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network.)

Monitoring of International Conventions (CLADEM)

Cairo+5: Moving forward in the eye of the storm

Repositioning family planning on the development agenda (IPS News)

Marketisation of governance: critical feminist perspectives from the South (DAWN)

Family planning subtracted from MDG equation (IPS)

Sexual and reproductive rights missing in Millenium Goals (IPS)

Cairo consensus reaffirmed in Latin America and the Caribbean (Choike)

United States stands alone in rejecting women's rights at UN meetings

Multilateral Development Banks’ reproductive health

Mapping Multilateral Development Banks’ reproductive health and HIV/AIDS spending (Gender Action)


2003 Advocacy Campaign for the Exercise of Sexual and Reproductive Rights Maternal Mortality: (Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network)

Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Convención)

African health leaders, lawyers, women's advocates call for action to save women's lives from unsafe abortion (IPAS)

Women's Health Project Sexual Rights Campaign (South Africa)

Cordoba, Argentina: ban on birth control (REPEM)

Petition on the Ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Pambazuka)

Abortion in Latin America

Abortion legislation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Facts on induced abortion worldwide (Guttmatcher Institute)

International Human Rights Law and Abortion in Latin America (Human Rights Watch)

Human rights and sexual diversity

Lesbian Movements: Ruptures & Alliances (ILGA)

Choike is a project of the Third World Institute | Contact | Avda. 18 de julio 2095/301, Montevideo 11200, Uruguay | Phone: +598 2403 1424