The world is less than 500 days away from the targeted day to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight goals and 18 targets set by the United Nations and governments to tackle some of the worst problems that have impeded developing nations. While there has been much debate on the suitability of these targets since they were first launched in 2000, after the Millennium Summit, the culmination in 2015 and the Post 2015 Development Agenda are opportunities to call for greater attention to the issues that the MDGs strived to address. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)1 are critical to achieving the MDGs, in developing the Post 2015 Development Agenda, and, in general, ensuring a world that is just, equitable and inclusive, and where the marginalized, including women and girls, are empowered. Even before the MDGs, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)2 in 1994, and the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 which resulted in the Program of Action (PoA) and the Beijing Platform for Action, advocated the essentiality of these needs and rights internationally, regionally and nationally.
Priority to SRHR in the Post 2015 Development Agenda means comprehensively addressing universal access to SRHR, beyond considering family planning. Further, SRHR should be embodied in relevant goals and targets, such as gender, health, education, environment and others, because not doing so will limit the achievements expected from these broader areas. The benefits include healthier and longer lives, education opportunities for girls, economic gains for the household, community and country, and dealing with major diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Finally, SRHR and gender equality are inextricably linked. Inequality and power over women, their bodies, and their sexuality endangers health throughout the lifecycle.