The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) marked an important moment in the history of women’s reproductive health and rights the world over, as well as the further recognition that women’s empowerment and full participation in political, social and economic life were necessary conditions for development and progress to take place. Indeed with the Philippines’ participation in and acceptance of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), a paradigm shift from the population control programme to the broader human rights-based population and development framework began to take place. The Philippines embraced reproductive health as a health approach, going beyond a mere focus on family planning (FP) and population reduction. Policies and programmes in reproductive health began to be introduced and implemented although, over time, inconsistencies began to show up in the understanding of both the goals and the actual implementation of programmes. When this happened, there was considerable external pressure to revert to the population control framework.
This study assesses progress made in achieving ICPD goals since 1994 and compares its findings and analysis with government reports and their findings. It focusses on three important and contentious themes of reproductive health and rights in the Philippines: maternal health, family planning/contraception, and abortion, it uses real stories and accounts of women’s experiences to reflect the reproductive rights violations that continue to happen. Quantitative data from other Likhaan studies are also used and analysed. In addition the study critiques government reports on policies and programmes that are supposedly geared towards improving the health and situation of women.