International Organizations Convene for Rio+20 Discussions

By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver

Last month, staff from Women Deliver met with high-level members of several international organizations focused on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women and youth. The meeting was organized to discuss the lack of emphasis on gender, SRHR, and young people in the Zero Draft document for Rio+20, which takes place this June.

The Rio+20 summit, a UN conference on sustainability, will include seven priority areas: decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness. Despite the undisputed link between women’s health, reproductive rights, and family planning accessibility with these priorities, gender- and SRHR-related topics have not received as much attention as many believe it should have.

During the March 12th meeting, representatives from UNFPA and UNDP spoke about the links between poverty and sustainability and gender inequality, fertility, and access to reproductive health and family planning. The meeting presented an opportunity for representatives and key members of international organizations to present on and discuss how to best advocate for greater inclusion of gender and SRHR in the outcome document after Rio+20, as well as the potential for a new framework that operates under a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) context.

Discussions also focused on moving away from donor-centric approaches and the challenges that presents, implementation of effective monitoring and accountability, and creating global development strategies and goals that are flexible enough and relevant to individual regions and countries. Members unanimously agreed that it was important to begin to develop strong positions on these issues now to allow for stronger advocacy efforts in the future.

The Session also allowed representatives to speak about the challenges and opportunities that they are seeing in their advocacy efforts, and to discuss potential for partnerships and collaborations in these efforts. Other issues presented were steps moving forward, including  addressing “opponents” of greater SRHR references in the future development framework and outcome documents, country ownership of the internationally agreed development framework, and how to make clear links between the rights and empowerment of women with the seven key priority issues.

The meeting provided a platform to promote and prove some new questions that must be tackled in the months ahead. Because of the increasing likelihood that Rio+20 will launch a process that will feed into the post-2015 agenda. The outcome of Rio+20 in particular will shape our future, and we cannot lose the opportunity to prioritize the health and well-being of girls and women, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver believes that now is a crucial time to advocate and bring gender concerns and the need for gender equality into this debate.

•    Read the full notes from the meeting.

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