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Cross regional statement HRC 25 on access to contraceptives and family planning as a human rights concern

Denmark together with 62 other countries from all regions adresses lack of access to contraceptives as a human rights challenge for more than 222 million women worldwide

HRC25, Item 3 General Debate

Cross regional statement on access to contraceptives and family planning as a human rights concern

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of 63 countries, France, Slovenia, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Finland, Netherlands, Estonia, Croatia, Spain, Sweden, Luxemburg, United Kingdom, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Latvia, Austria, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Romania, Norway, Lichtenstein, Australia, Iceland, Serbia, New Zealand, Turkey, Monaco, Ethiopia, Morocco, Rwanda, Botswana, Djibouti, Somalia, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Honduras, Uruguay, Japan, Mozambique, Mexico, Switzerland, Colombia, Italy, Canada, Senegal, Vietnam, Mali, Slovakia, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Thailand.

Mr President,
Lack of access to contraceptives and family planning is a human rights challenge. Today more than 222 million women worldwide who would like to delay or avoid childbearing are not using contraception and do not have adequate access to family planning. Promotion of integrated family planning services, including ensuring access to contraceptive methods that meet the needs and choices of individuals throughout the life cycle is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women and their human rights, including the highest attainable standard of health and the right to decide freely the number and spacing of one’s children and to have access to information, education and means to exercise this right. 179 countries committed to this in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.

Furthermore the Millennium Development Goals committed governments to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

To achieve gender equality it is critical that women have access to available, accessible, acceptable and good quality contraceptives and family planning, including counselling, education, communication, information and services, free from discrimination.

In addition to its role in fulfilling women's human rights, access to contraception and family planning can empower women to complete their education, increase women’s autonomy, delay the age of marriage, and has the overall impact of improving the economic security and well-being of women and their families.

Access to contraceptives and family planning could also help prevent one third of the almost 300,000 maternal deaths that happen each year. It enables women to space their births or delay or avoid childbearing, leads to healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries, and reduces the risks of maternal mortality and morbidity and improves women’s overall health, including by providing protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

We must therefore re-commit ourselves to ensuring universal access to contraceptives and family planning as a key step towards realizing human rights, in particular the right to the highest attainable standard of health. We call upon the international community to ensure that the Post-2015 development agenda addresses the shortcomings of the MDGs and ensure equitable access to quality counselling, information, education, communication and services for all individuals in order to plan their own families. We urge the Human Rights Council to give its full attention to this critical human rights issue.

i See WHO,
ii See UNFPA, and