Today’s meeting focused on why sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to achieve the SDGs and gender equality. The moderator introduced the panel speakers and stated that NGLS is working hard to build support between the UN and civil societies.
The first speaker was Ms. Namasivayam, and she explained that SRHR is often vaguely understood and an overlooked component in development, yet its role is fundamental to achieving sustainable well-being for all. SRHR has two key components already captured in the SDGs: health and gender equality. She noted how access to health services is critical especially for low-income communities, and acts as a social leveler to reduce inequalities. She also said that fundamental freedoms such as who and when to marry enable autonomy and decision-making for women.
The second speaker was Ms. Nessa, and she explained the statistics behind the sexual and reproductive rights for context. 64% of women aged 20-24 are married before the age of 19, 31% of adolescent girls aged 15-19 already have one child, and 30.8% of school dropouts start an early sexual and reproductive role. She explained that one of the key challenges of SRHR is a lack of political will of the policy makers and executives.
Another notable speaker was Ms. David, and she discussed the sexual and reproductive health programs in the Philippines. She stated that there is weak implementation of such programs, as the Philippines is one of 2 countries in the world with no progress in MMR reduction. Abortion is illegal in the country, but estimates put the number of induced abortions at 600,000/year, resulting in 100,000 hospitalizations for abortion complications. However, she said that there is a growing demand among civil societies and the media for policy changes. After the panelist speakers, the floor was open for questions.
Meeting: Universal Access to SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights)
Date/Location: Wednesday March 23, 2016, 13:15 – 14:30, Conference Room 7
Speakers: Susan Alzner, UN-NGLS and moderator; Ms. Managala Namasivayam, Senior Programme Officer of ARROW; Ms. Habbibum Nessa, Naripokkho; Rina Jiminez David, member of board of directors at Likhaan; Dr. P. Balasubramanian, Rural Women’s Social Education Centre
Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung
Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick
Photo Credit: Jade Beall