This article is co-authored by Adrienne Germain, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity.
afternoon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a major speech to mark
the 15th anniversary of the United Nations International
Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which set ambitious goals
for improving sexual health and reproductive rights throughout the world.
to the ICPD, the importance of securing women’s health and rights was largely
absent from international development discourse. It took the mobilization—and
action— of grassroots women’s groups from across the Global South to persuade
governments that women’s health and human rights are imperative in their own
right—and crucial to sustainable global development. In response to this
movement, 179 governments agreed to a 20-year action plan.
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Since ICPD, we have seen progress on securing the health and
rights of women and young people.
Despite these gains, much remains to be done. Women and girls in many parts of the world still face
egregious violations of their basic human rights, and lack access to the
comprehensive reproductive health services they need to stay healthy: contraception,
comprehensive sexuality education, testing and treatment for reproductive
cancers and prevention, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted
infections, including HIV; maternity care, and access to safe abortion
Recognizing the urgent need for concrete action, more than 50
faith-based, human rights, health, and environmental organizations and program
implementers—including CHANGE and IWHC— are advocating for specific
steps the U.S. can take to fulfill the goals of ICPD. The core
Ensure that U.S.
policies and programs address the real-life circumstances of individuals and
communities being served and ensure equitable and maximum access to services
Ensure that U.S.
programs and policies protect and promote the human rights of women and youth,
including their right to decide freely and responsibly on matters related to
their sexual and reproductive health free of coercion, discrimination and
Increase the amount of U.S.
funding that goes directly to innovative, local and women’s organizations that
advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality; and
- Re-engage with
international organizations on meeting global goals (such as ICPD) related to
sexual and reproductive health and rights through increased financial support and
This afternoon, the world will be watching for a renewed U.S. commitment
to reaching the ICPD goals, and other related UN agreements such as the Millennium
Development Goals. The
Congress is working on a similar statement of commitment, though a resolution
introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee
These statements of commitment by the Administration and the Congress now
need to be turned to action – in program implementation, funding levels, and
diplomatic endeavors to ensure the right of all people to make decisions about their own
sexuality and access the services needed to make that right a reality. And we all need to be behind them and
support them in taking those steps forward.
The speech will be streamed live on www.icpd2015.org starting at approximately 2:30
pm EST. A transcript and video of the speech will be posted on this site
following the event.