52ND COMMISSION ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT – Oral statement delivered by Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)

Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality are foundational to the full implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Asia Pacific region.

ARROW and the undersigned 77 organisations who endorse this statement welcome the adoption of the political declaration at the 52nd Commission on Population and Development to reaffirm the ICPD Programme of Action during the opening of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) and also welcomes the theme of the 52nd session: “Review and appraisal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and its contribution to the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. We recognise the strong interlinkages of both these transformative and visionary frameworks in furthering gender equality and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Asia Pacific region is home to 4.3 billion people of the world, and 60% of the world’s young people reside in the region. These people dynamics call for immediate implementation of effective policies and programmes that ensure gender equality and universal access to sexual and reproductive rights without stigma, discrimination and violence.

Evidence also points to many people in the region falling through the cracks, facing multiple discrimination in access to SRHR. These people include, women, young women including adolescent girls; ageing persons; trans-persons; people from poor; lower wealth quintiles; from rural areas and hard to reach places; minority and indigenous communities facing ethnic and caste-based violence; LGBTIQ communities; women engaged in informal labour; refugees; indigenous people; stateless people; internally displaced; women and trans people with disabilities; women and young people from conflict-affected areas in the region.

High out-of-pocket expenditure, unregulated privatisation of health, including unaffordable health insurance, result in a denial of services to the most marginalised people. Poor public health expenditure, and lower health worker to population density in the region further impede universal access to SRHR.

As we celebrate the 25th year of ICPD implementation, we call upon Member States to:

  • Enact legislation, formulate and implement policies to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services through publicly funded health systems including social health insurance. This includes access to the full range of SRH information, contraceptives services, maternal health services including emergency obstetric care, safe abortion and post-abortion care, infertility treatment, HIV, STIs and reproductive cancers. Ensure respect for women, and young people, informed decision making, autonomy, confidentiality, informed choice, consent and privacy in the provision of such SRH services.
  • Eliminate all punitive measures for women and girls seeking abortion, and health care providers performing abortions. Enable change in attitudes and perceptions that result in stigmatisation within health institutions and communities.
  • Ensure full integration of comprehensive SRHR information and services, delivered through strengthened health and education systems, with focus on primary health care and referrals. Such services need to be provided through public financing, with a focus on patient centeredness, efficiency, accountability, and sustainability.
  • Protect and promote women’s human rights, and commit to advance gender equality in all its diversity, identity and expressions and ensure substantive equality of women
  • Eliminate all forms of multiple intersecting sexual and gender-based discrimination and violence including intimate partner and non-partner violence.
  • Eliminate harmful traditional practices by influencing all formal and informal institutions and discriminatory patriarchal socio-cultural norms and practices
  • Address data gaps and ensure disaggregated data on SRHR information and services indicators.
  • Ensure gender responsive budgetary allocation and expenditure tracking for SRHR information and services in the national health and development plans. Ensure governments increase financial and human resources for health systems strengthening and gender equality.

FULL STATEMENT, with signatories, read out by Sai Jyothirmai Racherla, in:ARROW SRHR Info Resources, April 2019 ; PHOTO