Reproductive Health Services
* Priority Concerns
* Offering Essential Services
* Reproductive and Sexual Health is a Societal Concern
UNFPA supports a gender- and rights-based approach to reproductive and sexual health, one that empowers women throughout their lives.
Reproductive rights become tangible, however, only when reproductive health services that offer a high quality of care are made widely available. Availability includes both affordability and convenience, which generally implies a range of services under one roof.
The critical importance of reproductive health was endorsed at the highest level at the 2005 World Summit. At that convocation, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders recognized that reproductive health is critical to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. They reaffirmed the need to keep reproductive health high on the development agenda, and to make universal access to reproductive health by 2015 a reality.
UNFPA gives priority to providing basic reproductive health services to young people, pregnant women, and hard-to-reach populations, including those displaced by humanitarian crises. Linking reproductive health services to HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care is increasingly being seen as a critical strategy to expanding access to both types of care. In recognition that men are integral to reproductive health, the Fund also is expanding its support to services that can make men healthier and more responsible sexual partners.
Both men and women need access to information and appropriate health services throughout their lives. Such information and services should be gender sensitive and allow:
* All individuals to make informed choices about sexuality and reproduction, and to have a safe and satisfying sexual life, free of violence and coercion
* Women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth
* Couples to have the best chance of having a healthy infant
* Women to avoid unwanted pregnancy and to address the consequences of unsafe abortion
* Access to prevention, treatment and care for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Supporting the Constellation of Reproductive Rights
During the 1990s, a series of important United Nations conferences emphasized that the well-being of individuals, and respect for their human rights, should be central to all development strategiews. Particular emphasis was given to reproductive rights as a cornerstone of development.
Reproductive rights were clarified and endorsed internationally in the Cairo Consensus that emerged from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. This constellation of rights, embracing fundamental human rights established by earlier treaties, was reaffirmed at the Beijing Conference and various international and regional agreements since, as well as in many national laws. They include the right to decide the number, timing and spacing of children, the right to voluntarily marry and establish a family, and the right to the highest attainable standard of living, among others.
What Are Reproductive Rights?
Attaining the goals of sustainable, equitable development requires that individuals are able to exercise control over their sexual and reproductive lives. This includes the rights to:
* Reproductive health as a component of overall health, throughout the life cycle, for both men and women
* Reproductive decision-making, including voluntary choice in marriage, family formation and determination of the number, timing and spacing of one's children and the right to have access to the information and means needed to exercise voluntary choice
* Equality and equity for men and women, to enable individuals to make free and informed choices in all spheres of life, free from discrimination based on gender
* Sexual and reproductive security, including freedom from sexual violence and coercion, and the right to privacy.