Towards Full Respect of Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Buenos Aires, Argentina, 22 March 2001
Sexual and reproductive rights have been a theme on the agenda of the political struggle of the women's movement and in particular of feminism, for several decades. The differing positions taken with regard to these rights today, mark a clear divide between progressive parties and conservative parties and likewise between politics of the left and politics of the right. This has become evident during international meetings and particularly at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, and the Conference on Beijing + 5 in New York in 2000.
In defence of sexual and reproductive rights, Socialist International Women has taken a position in support of the inalienable rights of women, in this way contributing to the promotion of progress and equality. In essence, these rights include the recognition of a woman's authority over her sexual life and reproductive capacity, free from coercion, violence and discrimination.
Central to women's exercise of citizenship and to the possibilities and opportunities for their personal and collective development in any society are:
- access to accurate and up-to-date information on sexuality and reproduction;
- the ability to make decisions about one's own body for full sexual enjoyment and reproduction;
- integral sexual and reproductive health care through access to health and education services; and
- equity, respect and solidarity in relations between men and women.
The obstacles to the exercise of women's sexual and reproductive rights are the result of various conditions – from the failure of governments' political will to develop public policies which safeguard these rights; to the conservative position of powerful groups within different religions; to the prevailing patriarchal cultural stereotypes which normalise and reproduce the subordination and discrimination of women within the area of sexuality and reproduction. Overcoming these obstacles requires multiple strategies at the cultural, social and political level.
Socialist International Women, from its active commitment to women's fights for their rights and with the deepest conviction of the significance of respect for sexual and reproductive rights for equality and social justice, proposes:
- the adoption of laws that promote sexual and reproductive health at all levels;
- the effective incorporation of budgetary items which will guarantee their implementation;
- the implementation of public policies with a cross-gender perspective, which incorporate inter-institutional action, prioritising health, education and social advancement;
- the inclusion of more women in decision-making bodies in legislative and executive arenas;
- the integration of specialist NGOs in the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies.
Finally, SIW wishes to recall that the defence of women's sexual and reproductive rights forms part of a wider proposition which defends new models of the family: families which constitute new schools of democracy in which the emphasis must be placed on equality, liberty, the shared responsibility of men and women and the individual respect for all members of it, children as well as adults. The first right of a child is to be wanted and loved from the beginning of its life, for which it is essential that action is taken to ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of women.