The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has called on the global community to rise and join in the campaign to ensure that the rights of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning are adequately protected.
The Executive Director of the UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin, made the call in a statement to mark the 2017 International Women’s Day.
He, however, reiterated that the UNFPA remains committed to ensuring women and girls are accorded their due rights to sexual and reproductive health services across the globe.
“Gender equality is a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and fear, without discrimination. Gender equality is also vital to sustainable development, peace and security. It’s not just a women’s issue. It’s an issue for all of humanity,” Osotimehin noted. .
He lamented that despite progress made over the years, the world still has a long way to go to achieve full gender equality.
“Take, for instance, the fact that every year tens of thousands of girls are forced into child marriage —nearly one third of these before the age of 15. Or that one woman in three experiences gender-based violence in her lifetime.
“Some 200 million women and girls have endured female genital mutilation. And there are 225 million women who want modern family planning but are not getting it, and therefore are unable to choose whether or when to have children.
“The global community has an obligation to advance the new agenda for sustainable development, which enshrines gender equality as one of its goals. The ability of women and girls to exercise their basic human rights, including their right to sexual and reproductive health, is a prerequisite for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he noted.