UN Reaffirms Commitment to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights on World Population Day

In April, governments renewed their commitment to accelerating the implementation of the Programme of Action from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This agenda, embedded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aims to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and advance reproductive rights.

Over the past three decades, significant progress has been made. The number of women using modern contraception has doubled since 1990, maternal mortality has declined by 34% since 2000, and access to HIV treatment has averted an estimated 20.8 million deaths globally by 2022. However, recent setbacks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change, and rising inequalities threaten these gains, demanding urgent action.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected, hindering their rights to informed decisions and bodily autonomy. Many, especially marginalized groups, still lack access to essential sexual and reproductive health services. More than half of women of reproductive age cannot make their own informed decisions about pregnancy, and many lack the autonomy to exercise their reproductive rights.

On World Population Day, UN agencies urge the global community, including governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector, to strengthen access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. They emphasize the need to eliminate stigma and discrimination and dismantle harmful social and gender norms.

Accelerating access to comprehensive sexuality education and cross-sector action is essential for the health and well-being of girls and women. Investing in reproductive rights yields significant social, economic, and peace benefits. Additional financing is crucial for long-term positive outcomes for women and girls.

The UN calls for innovative approaches, including telemedicine and artificial intelligence, to expand access to services in remote areas. Addressing gender gaps in technology and ensuring inclusive health interventions are vital for sustainable results.

As the world approaches the Summit of the Future at the UN General Assembly in September, bold and decisive action is needed to ensure everyone can realize their rights to health, dignity, and security, advancing towards a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.