At a time of profound and multiple crises, it is worrying that the focus of any government's action is to go back on already consolidated international commitments, particularly those which recognize, based on evidence, that Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are fundamental human rights, central to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development across its social, economic, and environmental dimensions. SRHR – which encompasses a range of issues, including universal access to SRH services and supplies, comprehensive sexuality education, and ending gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early, child and forced marriage – are fundamental to the ability of all people, especially women, adolescent girls and young people, to lead full, satisfying, healthy and productive lives.
SRH services are a critical aspect of SRHR, but a complete understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights goes far beyond on access to health facilities and services to include an array of social, legal, institutional, and financial arrangements that enable individuals to exercise their rights in general and addresses the underlying social determinants.
In this regard, our Latin American community urges the government of Zambia to review its position and, on the contrary, to improve and expand the SRHR services, including increasing funding in this sector, for example by investing in fulfilling the human rights of women and girls, in all their diversity, as gender discrimination is one of the leading determinants of poor health and unwanted SRHR outcomes. It is also key to addressing inequities in access due to poverty and multiple forms of discrimination, stigma and social and economic exclusion affecting various population groups.
We conclude by highlighting the importance of evidence-based policies and, in 2023, the data indicates that effective policies are not those based on stigma and discrimination or elimination of rights. On the contrary, effective policies are those that include, care for, and treat all people as subjects of rights, capable of making decisions about their health and reproductive life, with the support of a State committed to promoting citizenship and the human dignity of their people.
Here, at IPPF ACRO, we will remain attentive and always willing to contribute so that rights do not go backwards and no one is left behind.
Eugenia Lopez Uribe
Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean