Gender equality will only be achieved in Europe and Central Asia when women and girls are able to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights, the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) said to mark International Women's Day on 8 March.
It is estimated that two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty are women and that women make up 60 per cent of the 572 million working poor in the world. “It is time we tackled the harmful discrimination that prevents women and girls from fulfilling their potential,” said Vicky Claeys, IPPF EN Regional Director.
Many people believe that European societies are modern and progressive when it comes to women’s rights. But patriarchal, traditional and religious influences still have a strong grip over the everyday lives of women and girls in many European countries.
A strong conservative wind is currently blowing through many European and Central Asian countries and even through the EU and European institutions, opposing progress and challenging the imperfect but hard-won battles on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The EU and the Council of Europe must play as strong a role as possible in defending and strengthening the fundamental rights of women and girls. Respecting sexual and reproductive health and rights is a pre-condition for their freedom and independence.
“Supportive national policies and greater investment in this area are needed not only to support, the health of women and girls, but also to enable them to participate across social, economic and political life.”
Gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights must be prioritized in the next set of global development goals, the post-2015 framework, which will be decided in the next few months.
Vicky Claeys added: “There are huge challenges to achieving gender equality. Society’s expectations for girls and women can limit their opportunities across social, economic and political life.
“This is both a national and global agenda that cannot be ignored. To stamp out gender inequality and make sure that women and girls can realize their sexual and reproductive rights, we need both the political will for change and targeted financial support.”
IPPF’s new report , ‘Sexual and reproductive health and rights – the key to gender equality and women’s empowerment’, which will be launched on March 16th at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, sets out specific recommendations to governments and to United Nations agencies to make sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality a reality, including:
- Making sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality a reality
- Sustaining the success of sexual and reproductive health interventions
- Engaging men and boys as partners in gender transformative change
- Eliminating sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls
- Building capacity for women to participate in political and public life
Notes to editors:
Sexual and reproductive health and rights- the key to gender equality and empowerment- new landmark report will be launched at the United Nations at the Commission on the Status of Women 16th March