The second report in our Vision 2020 series, this publication, "SRHR- the key to gender equality and women’s empowerment" sets out how SRHR is critical to gender equality and women’s empowerment across three dimensions. It explores how ensuring universal access to SRHR can promote economic growth, social equity and political participation.
Pathways of empowerment
This report examines the links between sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality. It explores the different pathways of empowerment that girls and women experience, and analyzes how these pathways are affected by sexual and reproductive health and rights. Policy focus and attention given to gender equality and women’s empowerment has been growing over the last decade, and there are some areas where links are established more conclusively. Although there is strong documentation on the health benefits of investment in sexual and reproductive health, until recently the non‑medical benefits, such as higher levels of social and political participation, have been largely ignored, partly because they are difficult to measure. While the social and economic implications of sexual and reproductive health and rights are often overlooked, they are no less real. More attention is needed to explore the links between sexual and reproductive health and rights and other critical areas relating to gender equality, such as the representation of women in political and public life.
Methodology and priority themes
For the purposes of this report, and in line with accepted wisdom on emerging areas of priority, we focus on the following core areas relating to gender equality:
1) equality in social development,
2) economic participation and
3) participation in political and public life.
Within each area, we discuss key links with sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as identifying ways in which these links contribute to empowerment experienced by girls and women.
IPPF carried out desk reviews of existing policy research: over 350 references were reviewed on the following focus areas:
- sexual and reproductive health and rights and the social development of girls and women (including health, education, and freedom from sexual and gender-based violence)
- sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s economic participation
- sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s participation in political and public life
Resources were gathered for review using three main methods:
1) electronic database searching,
2) cross-referencing of reference lists of related articles and reviews and
3) consultation with experts in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality.
Papers were prioritized for inclusion if they met a number of criteria: if they appeared to provide a clear international policy overview of key review themes and evidence given from a rights-based perspective, with statistically proven linkages, case studies and/or findings from qualitative studies; were published recently, and within the last 10 years; were published in English; corresponded most closely to agreed keyword searches; and were cited widely.
During the first phase, these methods were used to search the libraries of an agreed group of multi‑lateral institutions; key donors and governments; non‑governmental organizations working in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and development; and key global and regional partnerships. Findings were then verified and enriched, with gaps identified and filled, using searches in relevant public health and gender journals, along with regional and national policy reports and studies that fitted the search criteria closely and/or that came recommended.