Ensuring Human Rights in the Provision of Contraceptive Information and Services

The World Health Organization hosted a UN Human Rights Council side event on March 6th, 2014, “Ensuring Human Rights in the Provision of Contraceptive Information and Services” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.


The speakers discussed how 222 million women have an unmet need for modern contraception, which can lead to unintended pregnancies and subsequently, maternal and infant mortality. Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable because they often compromise their education and employment when they become pregnant, which can leave them at an economic and social disadvantage. This relates to GWI’s promotion of lifelong education for girls and women in order to advance their status.


There has been development in the past two decades on access to family planning, but states and health care providers still need to expand its dissemination to improve the wellbeing of women. The panel provided recommendations for states to ensure that comprehensive contraceptive information and services are available, affordable, accessible to everyone, and provided in confidentiality, free of discrimination, sensitive to the individual and in good quality.


Accessibility of information includes creating scientifically accurate and comprehensive sexual health education programs both within and outside of schools. Dr. Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of WHO, agreed with the benefits of providing information on contraceptives in schools. GWI also advocates for non-traditional educational training, which includes health literacy.


Through education, women can make informed decisions about sexuality and reproduction, choosing their own contraception or refusing it. Education can also assist in responsible and informed sexual and reproductive health behavior for adolescents. H.E. Mr. Carsten Staur, Ambassador of Denmark, agreed that without access to this information, women do not have control over a big part of their lives and cannot improve their own destinies. Being informed allows women to be active agents and participate in the implementation of policies that affect them. Similarly, GWI encourages women to use their knowledge to become decision-makers in their private and public lives.


Anders B. Johnsson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, recommended parliaments to be more involved in the reporting process of CEDAW and UPR and analyze how laws affect women. GWI and NFAs can influence parliament at various stages to contribute to the writing of the reports.


Human Rights Council

March 2014