From: Linda Asante-Agyei, GNA Special Correspondent, New York
Courtesy: Partnership for Maternal and New Child Health /WHO
Global leaders have called for the prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The leaders noted that in many places around the world, progress on sexual and reproductive rights was lagging while legal barriers, insufficient services and resources contributed to 85 million unintended pregnancies with 20 million unsafe abortions each year.
The leaders, speaking at a high level event as part of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York, said 800 women and girls died each day from preventable pregnancy related causes and that sexual and reproductive health rights must be affirmed as a non-negotiable foundation of the post-2015 agenda.
The event was put together by Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health under the auspices of Aspen Global Health and Development at the Aspen Institute and United Nations Foundations.
The leaders said unless those rights were fully realised, progress towards eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development would continue to be undermined.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are the most basic and private aspects of human life. They are one?s rights to make decisions on one?s own body, sexuality, relationships, marriage and childbearing and without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence.
Fulfilling such rights would be a force multiplier that enabled women, girls and young people to complete their education, and fulfill their full potentials in economic, political and social lives.
Dr Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, called for the empowerment of women economically to help them keep their girls in school.
She called for the need to promote maternal and reproductive health to help save the lives of women.
Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia, said issues of child marriage had been sidelined for far too long adding ?the time has come to talk about it and see to it that it comes to its complete end.?
Giving the enormity of the problem, Dr Kaseba-Sata said 700 million young girls were married annually at an early age whilst 14 million of those young girls were below 18 years.
?These young girls are denied the rights to education, better jobs with better wages, rise to their full potential in economic, political and social life,? she said.
She said girls in Africa were the untapped resources and there was the need to empower them to delay in getting married ?for they will be the future leaders after us?.
Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and the Co-Chair of the High Level Task Force for the ICPD, reiterated the need to affirm sexual and reproductive rights as a non-negotiable foundation of the post-2015 agenda.
Ms Joy Phumaphi, Chair of the Global Council for Reproductive Health and former Health Minister of Botswana, said much progress had been made over the years on the issues of poverty and safe drinking water.
?As we think about the future of development, the future of our shared world, sexual and reproductive health and rights must be at the top of the global agenda?
Mr Samuel Kissi, former President of Curious Minds, Ghana, reminded the world of the need to empower the youth and involve them in decision-making.