Respecting women’s sexual and reproductive rights and physical integrity, a condition for empowering women in the context of sustainable development

Joanna  at UN ECE NGO ForumProgramme:

  • Words of welcome by the OIF (International organisation of French-speaking people)
  • Introduction by Mrs Nicole Ameline , French deputy , former chairperson and member of the CEDAW
  • Pierrette Pape (EWL) European women’s lobby
  • Moïra Sauvage (Genital mutilation- let’s talk about it)
  • Gwendoline Coipeault ( Femmes solidaires)
  • Joanna Morganara (IAW)

During the workshop Françoise Morvan,  President of CLEF launched a call  for women’s right to have control over their bodies.

It is by no way possible, today, to achieve sustainable development. This is just hypocrisy, simply because women can never become full economic agents if they can’t choose the number and the spacing of the children they want.

Recognition of women’s right to have control over their fecundity, abortion included, is felt essential to guarantee their autonomy and their dignity as CEDAW recommends: in other words   the right to control their bodies

Sustainable development cannot be attained because women, who  make up half of humanity are victims of discriminations such  as the ones described above and of many others, sometimes extremely severe.

Article 16 of CEDAW, demands that state parties should take all measures to ensure that women should “decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and have access to information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights”, A principle which was reaffirmed at the International Conference on Population and Development- Cairo, Egypt (1994) and at the Beijing 4th World Conference on Women  (1995)

More generally, the Beijing platform, after having underlined that “women having control over their fecundity is an important basis for enjoying other rights”, suggests, among other measures, “to reinforce laws in order to eliminate discrimination against women, to ensure full respect of the integrity of the individual, and realise the conditions necessary for a woman to exercise her rights in procreation and eliminate coercive laws  and practices .

It is high time now, to make an effort on the follow up to these measures, which governments have to take. Feminine organisations must draft shadow reports to be submitted to the CEDAW committee. In these reports, organisations can describe the situation concerning women’s empowerment, as it is in reality; that is to say if women have the possibility to have control over their body.

Then, it is necessary to disseminate the observations made by the CEDAW committee, on the government reports of women’s rights of control over their   body.

As Anand Grover, special rapporteur for the Human Rights Council, whose approach is based on women’s reproductive health and rights, said ” it is necessary to lift the obstacles that limit Women’s personal decisions when health is concerned. Obstacles to health services fit for women and girls’ diseases must also be lifted.  When the obstacle is set by law or by any other legal Instrument States have to lift it.

According to Anand Grover, States must engage in reforms evolving  towards  the  elaboration and application of politics and programs relating to sexual and  reproductive health, as the right  to international  human rights requires. In this context, the special rapporteur invites States to:

  • work out comprehensive family planning politics and programs offering a large scale of goods, information and services relating to Make them available, accessible, and of good quality.
  • Decriminalise the supply and use of all forms of contraception and voluntary sterilisation to control    fecundity and remove obligations of parental or spousal consent.
  • Take measures to ensure availability, access and quality to a complete set of contraceptive, pharmaceutical and surgical methods
  • Decriminalise Communication on sexual and reproductive health information. Proof of education of this type of health included.
  • Formulate policies aiming at ensuring that laws like the one on pornography should not to be used to limit access to information and to education on sexual and reproductive health, or to punish those who provide access to it
  • Decriminalise abortion and the laws referring to it, especially those inclining to its use.

Governments must be invited to adopt all measures necessary to this end, and especially to repeal the laws on abortion and to ban genital mutilation, so as to enable women to enjoy fully their sexual and reproductive rights, without delay or reservations.  Moreover it is necessary to follow this process by reports and other means.

New York – 14 March 2016