Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women in Sustainable Development Goals

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While the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are inclusive and expansive on its own, it aims in covering number of sectors that cover the socio-economic issues worldwide. In an attempt to bring the sexual and reproductive issues into its framework, SDGs has widened its focus involving agendas of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Three of its goals- health, education and gender equality goals specifically focus on meeting the SRHR agendas. It features the main aspects of SRHR which includes availability of services of sexual and reproductive health,sexuality education, problems related to maternal and newborn health and the freedom to make decisions about one’s own health.

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SRHR issues affect women and men equally and it is necessary that these issues be included when the leaders plan for agendas like this for the next 15 years through SDGs. Though the issues of SRHR advocate for men and women in the same way, various social, cultural as well as biological attributes suggest that women are more vulnerable in this matter.

Like in every other issue, the very basic problem is lack of education which has almost always victimized women than men. Various norms and discrimination against femininity have deprived girls from receiving proper education. As a result of this, they lack awareness and become victims of diseases as well as get pushed aside in the policy making about these health issues. Talking about their sexual rights, most girls are not free to making their decisions about the choice of partners and hence fail to express their sexuality and interest. In developing countries, they are forced to get married before the age of 18 or even 15 which isn’t an age mature enough to decide about their sexuality.

Another shocking threat to sexual rights is assault, including rape. Harassment, deception,manipulation, forced sexual attempts by either strangers or spouses are different forms that physical violence occurs in. Rape cases have commonly been found in girls below the age of 16 and as pathetic as it may sound, some of them are forced to marry their assaulter. This not only violates the sexual rights of a girl but also leads to unwanted and unsafe pregnancy. Even among married couples, unwanted pregnancy is found common, the reason behind which could be forced sexual attempts, limited education or access to family planning tools. Insufficient family planning awareness and tools have been seen in many Asian and African countries.

All of this raises the issues of reproductive health rights. Every individual has the right to decide the number of children they want to have. But the number of unsafe abortions presented in statistical data shows that there is more than awareness that is needed. It is well known that even today there are places in this globe where people do not have access to the very basic essentials of life, let alone the anticipation of reproductive health care. The absence of medical advice and proper care has led to the death of many girls and women even in minor complications before, during or after pregnancy. The practice of unequipped pregnancy results in reproductive illnesses and poor health conditions of mother as well as child.

Having said that, the actual success of this program after the alliance of policy makers, investors and executives is yet to be seen. Reliable global data collection source and enthusiastic human resource remain a need for SDGs planners. The success of this program will depend on the extent to which the government, non-governmental agencies and individuals as a whole take seriously these problems in their mainstream and implement the relevant policies to attain them. SDGs has laid out an ambitious agenda for the global community and its success will show us a peaceful, healthy and happy global village.     

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