women of the world: laws and policies affecting their reproductive lives


Imagine a world in which the laws and policies of every country allowed women to fully enjoy their reproductive rights. While this is still a distant goal, a confluence of factors has enabled women’s health and rights advocates to bring it into focus. The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) were groundbreaking for so many reasons, among them that governments agreed that everyone has reproductive rights, and that they are an inalienable part of established international human rights. The recognition, long overdue, that the “traditional” human rights framework applies to women’s unique human condition, including their reproductive and sexual lives, has inspired women around the world.

The ICPD and the FWCW also recognized that a legal and policy environment that ensures women’s equality is necessary to ensure positive reproductive and sexual health outcomes. But to create that environment, advocates and policymakers need more information to support their efforts.