Europe is experiencing a serious setback in women's fundamental rights and we need to stand up for each other.
Achievements in women’s sexual and reproductive health rights since the 1970s are once again under threat.
According to the United Nations, reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. As a result, it implies the ability to enjoy a satisfying and risk-free sex life, as well as the ability to procreate and the freedom to decide whether, when and at what spacing one wishes to have children*.
It is affirmed in the Tehran Proclamation, Governments are urged to provide couples not only the ‘education’ but also the ‘means necessary to enable them to exercise their right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.’ (General Assembly Resolution 2542, U.N. Doc. A/7630)
Soroptimist International of Europe defends that all women, including those under the age of 18, need to maintain their sexual and reproductive health stability, receiving all support and care, independently of any order, external factors of any kind, inclusive of political, religious, or social influences.
Women need to rely on:
- Access to accurate information with safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception methods
- Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning tools
- Information about sexually transmitted infections and prevention
- When they decide to have children, women should have access to services that can help them have a fit pregnancy, safe delivery and healthy baby.
Finally, every individual has the right to decide freely and responsibly – without discrimination, coercion and violence – to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. When women with unwanted pregnancies based on their grounded decision do not have access to safe abortion, they often resort to unsafe abortion, putting them at high risk.
Procedures may involve the insertion of an object or substance (root, twig, or catheter or traditional concoction) into the uterus; dilatation and curettage performed incorrectly by an unskilled provider; ingestion of harmful substances; and application of external force, not to mention other methods dangerous to their safety and the increased risk of infertility, trauma or even death.
Soroptimist International Europe urges all European governments and the European Commission to establish and guarantee conditions that protect and promote women’s health and rights side by side with their self-determination and responsible behavior.
Soroptimist International of Europe defends that Europe needs to develop a comprehensive binding proposal on sexual and reproductive rights that is aligned with research and guiding principles. Good practices need to be shared.
Soroptimist International of Europe advocates for States to coordinate women’s health as a priority in accordance to the 12 critical areas of concern identified by the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action.
We leave no woman behind**
*Source – 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development Adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 2542)
1) International Conference on Population and Development – ICPD (1994) Program of Action, UN Doc. A/CONF.171/13 1994, para. 7.3.
2) Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing Conference) (1995) – Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action;
3) CEDAW Committee (2014) Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on sexual and reproductive health and rights: Beyond 2014: ICPD review (refers to “responsible behavior“).