Gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women will not be possible without the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights. For women and girls to lead healthy lives, and to be free to participate in social, economic and political life, they need universal access to quality services, information and education, and conditions that allow them to realize their sexual and reproductive rights.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are critical for women and girls to open doors to opportunities, prevent violence and change power relations in their lives, and to have healthy lives without HIV or other STIs. On these grounds alone, they must be considered priority interventions. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are important rights in themselves, but can also magnify possibilities to empower girls and women and to achieve gender equality.
There are many barriers to sexual and reproductive rights, including obstacles in accessing health services, information and education. Underlying these problems is discrimination. Especially women and girls and people from marginalized groups, such as persons with disabilities, gay men, lesbian women, trans or gender-diverse persons, persons from so called “lower” castes, people living in poverty, or minorities, face severe challenges in accessing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Read more: Amnesty, Sexual and reproductive rights
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights – the key to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
Report by IPPF (2015) is intended for advocates and decision makers to help them champion sexual and reproductive health and rights in advancing the empowerment of girls and women and to achieve gender equality. The report examines the links between sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality. It explores the different pathways of empowerment that girls and women experience and analyzes how these pathways are affected by sexual and reproductive health and rights
The report focuses on three areas and their links with sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as identifies ways in which these links contribute to empowerment experienced by girls and women. The three focus areas are:
1. Equality in social development
2. Economic participation
3. Participation in political and public life
UNFPA and Gender Equality
Women and girls are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. They have less access to property ownership, credit, training, and employment. Women are far less likely than men to be politically active and more likely to experience domestic abuse and other forms of violence.
Gender equality will be achieved only when women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. Gender equality demands the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and addressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives. Women’s empowerment affects the whole family and this will often have a ripple effect on the future generations.
Key issues for women’s empowerment include: reproductive health and economic, educational and political empowerment.
Read more: UNFPA and Gender Equality