Starting the decade of action for sustainable development with accelerated and amplified action to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality of women and girls in the Asia Pacific region
The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) welcomes the priority theme of the 2020 ECOSOC High Level Segment. We are presenting this statement at a time where the Asia Pacific region’s already slow trajectory to realise the sustainable development goals is further threatened by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Progress is uneven and the region is still far from achieving the SDGs.
About 60% of the world’s population resides in this region. At least half of this figure are women and girls, the populations of great concern to us. Despite some advances including lowering MMR and increasing girls in school in some countries, substantive gender equality remains a dream for many particularly for marginalised women and girls who are, but not limited to, poor, lesser educated, from rural and hard-to-reach areas, with disability, of lower caste, indigenous, do not subscribe to traditional gender or sexual norms, stateless, undocumented migrants, and those suffered by humanitarian crisis resulting from conflict and climate change.
The region continues to face the highest rate of maternal mortality after Sub-Saharan Africa due to high fertility rates resulting from unmet need for contraception; teenage pregnancies in the absence or lack of access to CSE and contraception; early and forced marriages and; unsafe abortion, signaling deep-seated inequalities fueling barriers to quality and affordable access to health services. High levels of unintended pregnancy are observed and child, early and forced marriages are still rampant. The region is far from achieving universal health coverage. A comprehensive range of SRH services is still not included in the Essential Services Package.
With the shift in priorities for COVID-19 response, health and well being of women and girls should not be compromised! Governments must accelerate their response: