ARROW Executive Director Sivananthi Thanenthiran delivered a statement at the UN General Assembly Special Session on ICPD Beyond 2014 on behalf of Asia-Pacific and all our partners and allies across the region, calling on governments for “Renewed Consensus and Global Commitment to Create a More Equal, Equitable, Just and Sustainable World”.
Your excellencies, it is a priviledge to be able to speak at this seminal event of the Special Session of the General Assembly in ICPD Beyond 2014. There is a longer version of this statement which is available online.
We must be cognisant of the fact that sexual and reproductive health and rights are inextricable from economic, socio-cultural and political rights and must be recognized as necessary ingredients to achieving gender equality and sustainable development.
Why are sexual and reproductive rights a prerequisite for equality, especially gender equality? Three core elements which embody the concept of sexual and reproductive rights are integral to individual autonomy:
• to freely decide on matters of sexuality and reproduction;
• to have the right to consent; and
• to have bodily integrity.
Every individual must have the right to decide whom we can love, whom we can have consensual relations with and when, and whom we can enter into marriage with and when.
We must have the right to decide how many children to have if at all, when to have them and how frequently.
We must have the right to a life free from all forms of discrimination and violence.
We also call attention to the fact that sexual and reproductive health and rights do not exist in isolation: the full realisation of SRHR for all being severely affected by the intersection of persisting inequalities and new and emerging issues such as food security and food sovereignty, climate change and rising religious fundamentalisms – all which work to undermine progress made thus far.
This is a point of time in history which enables governments and citizens to re-negotiate the social contract in our societies and to reimagine a world of possibility, of promise and most importantly – of hope.
We are heartened that these challenges are fully recognised by the Report of the Secretary –General on the Framework of Actions for the follow up to the Programme of Action to the ICPD Beyond 2014 (A/69/62) and welcome the fact that governments have committed to recognising these gaps and challenges at the regional population conferences which have resulted in the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development from ECLAC, the 6th Asian and Pacific Declaration on Population and Development from ESCAP; and the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development in Africa Beyond 2014 from ECA. We hope governments and all stakeholders unequivocally support the regional outcome documents and the Report of the Secretary General on the Framework of Actions – to accelerate the full achievement of the vision of the ICPD Programme of Action.
We call for universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including access to a full range of contraceptive methods; safe abortion services; counselling, quality treatment, including empathetic and trained health service providers; and comprehensive sexuality education provided across different settings. We also call for rights-based continuum of quality care for sexual and reproductive health.
Further, we call on Member States and the international community to ensure universality of sexual and reproductive rights, and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, with particular focus on marginalised groups, including women, adolescents, young people, people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, rural women, migrants, ethnic and religious minorities, people living in contexts of disaster, war and conflict, displaced and stateless persons, sex workers, and people living with HIV and AIDS, amongst others, in line with existing international commitments and conventions.
Human beings and the full realisation of their human rights – recognised, attested to, and signed on by all member states present here – must be the goal of any development framework which aims to create a more equal, equitable, just and sustainable world. Nothing else, nothing less will do.