This report by Amnesty International was released on occasion of the forthcoming 20-year review of the implementation of the Program of Action at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994.
This landmark Program of Action recognised that sexual and reproductive rights are central to any effective population and development policy. It made clear that it is necessary that women and girls have the autonomy to decide free of coercion and violence, whether, when and with whom to be sexually active; whether and when to become pregnant and have children; and whether or not to marry. Since then, some important steps have been taken to realise the commitments made. However, as the 20-year review approaches, the report expresses concerns on progress being uneven and slow, and claims that efforts need to be enhanced.
The report highlights the need that the review is approached on the basis of human rights international standards. This means that sexual and reproductive health policies, programmes and strategies must be based on gender equality and human rights. Amnesty International recommends that governments and other relevant actors, as a matter of urgency:
- Address discrimination and put in practice policies to ‘include the excluded’ or marginalised as a result of their sexual or reproductive state.
- Ensure the protection of sexual and reproductive rights as human rights, through the implementation of appropriate laws, policies and other measures.
- Redress the accountability deficit for the violations of these rights and ensure women’s and girls’ access to justice and effective remedies.
- Ensure participation of the population in the planning, implementation and monitoring of these measures and respect and promote the rights of freedom, information assembly and association.
With regard to female genital mutilation (FGM), the report asserts that States have the obligation to ensure that all women and girls can live free from sexual violence, including FGM. It highlights that there is an urgent need to collect data on this issue.