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Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Sexual Health and Rights

A world without fear, stigma, or discrimination is a prerequisite for gender equality, as is girls’ and women’s ability to live according to their sexual health and rights.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights is about more than anatomy. It’s about identity, pleasure, bodily integrity, and a person’s ability to choose if, when, and how many children to have. When girls and women can control their own bodies, sexuality, and fertility, it transforms gender relations and increases their ability to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

25 million
25 million unsafe abortions take place each year due to stigma and restrictions on access.
72
72 countries around the world criminalize same-sex sexual acts.
$6.9 billion
Net savings of integrating contraceptive services with maternal and newborn health services in the developing world total $6.9 billion.
67 million
Providing girls and women in developing regions with necessary sexual and reproductive healthcare would result in the prevention of 67 million unintended pregnancies.

Investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits, not only for individual women, but also for families, communities, and countries. Having and implementing laws and policies that protect individuals’ sexuality, coupled with comprehensive sexuality education and stigma-free health services, greatly improves health and wellbeing. Integrating sexual rights into healthcare has a positive impact on HIV infection rates, mental health, and social equity.

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  • Recognize — in policy, practice, and funding — the central role sexual health and rights play in health equity, human rights, and development, while ensuring the inclusion of these rights in all national and sub-national policies.
  • Establish universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to modern contraception and safe, legal abortion.
  • Establish comprehensive sexuality education in schools in accordance with recent international technical guidance from UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, and the WHO.
  • Stop using criminal law to control people’s sexual health and rights and adopt appropriate laws and policies that respect, protect, and fulfill sexual health and rights for all, including adolescents and youth.
  • Ensure that adequate legal systems upholding national policies focused on sexual health and rights are in place and establish a high-level governmental department for monitoring and accountability.
  • Fund and support civil society to educate girls, women, young people, and marginalized groups about their sexual rights and mobilize them to claim those rights.
  • Enforce the integration of sexual health and rights frameworks within all programs, emphasizing the importance of accessible, stigma-free services for all, including marginalized groups, people living with disabilities, youth, and adolescents.
  • Ensure abortion is safe, legal, accessible, and affordable, and that post-abortion care is available.
  • Ensure knowledge and implementation of the Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) at the onset of every humanitarian emergency.
  • Engage men and boys in sexual health and rights initiatives.
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SRHR — the bedrock of gender equality: A Q&A with Dr. Natalia Kanem & Dr. Alvaro Bermejo

SRHR — the bedrock of gender equality: A Q&A with Dr. Natalia Kanem & Dr. Alvaro Bermejo

Research shows that investing in sexual and reproductive health is cost effective and critical to boosting economic growth and advancing the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, their families, and their communities. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Dr. Alvaro Bermejo, Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), share their expertise on the bold steps needed to respect, protect, and fulfill the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women everywhere.

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