#HRC41 – ARROW’s statement on the Right to Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

June 26, 2019 noor

Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members


Speaker: Noor Imran

Thank you.

I am making this statement on behalf of the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).

We share the Special Rapporteur’s concern that a large proportion of the limited resources allocated by States toward mental health is directed to ineffective systems, reliant on excessive medicalisation, coercion and institutionalisation. We agree with the Special Rapporteur that States have obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the right to mental health and that laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health information and services can directly undermine the promotion of health and well-being.

We also agree that inequality is a key obstacle to good mental health. Women are at a higher risk of mental health problems due to co-current risk factors such as gender based roles, stressors and negative life experiences and events.[1]  Globally, women still carry a disproportionate amount of unpaid workload, are more likely to be poor, are more likely to experience violence and coercion by an intimate partner.[2]

There is also very little consideration of mental health as a determinant of reproductive mortality and morbidity for women. Mental health problems may develop as a consequence of reproductive health problems or events such as lack of choice in reproductive decisions, unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion.[3] Suicide is a significant but often unrecognised contributor of maternal mortality.[4] Vulnerable groups such as adolescent girls with unplanned pregnancies are at elevated risk of suicide[1] which is exacerbated by social and structural factors such as the criminalisation of sexual and reproductive health services for women.[2]

We call on Member States to ensure women’s right to health is not undermined or applied in selective ways and to recognise universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as an inalienable component of women’s mental health.


[1] Ibid.

[2] Reuters, 2014 “Rape, abortion ban drives pregnant teens to suicide in El Salvador”, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-el-salvador-suicide-teens/rape-abortion-ban-drives-pregnant-teens-to-suicide-in-el-salvador-idUSKCN0IW1YI20141112

[1] WHO, Gender and Women’s Mental Health, https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/

[2] WHO, (2009) Mental Health Aspects of Women’s Reproductive Health: A Global Review of the Literature, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/43846/9789241563567_eng.pdf;jsessionid=BF4E11E6EB5026B1AAFAD563AC48C0DC?sequence=1

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Tags: , , ,