Dianda Veldman, Executive Director of Rutgers, welcomed everyone and explained about the hidden treasures of the report, being the statistics at the end. They shed some light on the status quo of the themes of ICPD and the MDGs such as demography, maternal and child health, the use of contraceptives, the unmet need for contraception and levels of education for boys and girls.
Subsequently, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen of UNFPA thanked the Dutch government making SRHR one of its policy priorities, and she thanked the government for its on-going support. She also thanked Rutgers for organising the annual launch of the report, and for their leading role as a NGO.
Albrectsen: “The possibility to control their own fertility is a human right and something that women and men worldwide yearn to achieve. That is the focus of the report. Everyone who wants to avoid or delay pregnancy should have the possibility and means, and information to do so. However, despite promises, resolutions and conventions which affirm the value of family planning, this is still unaccessible for 222 million women in developing countries. Even in richer countries family planning is not always accessible for marginalised groups. Many factors contribute to this gap: limited availability of care, costs and a series of circumstances in the lives of women and men which limit them to access SRHR services. These obstacles hinder their reproductive rights.”
Albrectsen focussed her attention to chapter 5 of the report, about the linkages between rights and benefits in investing in those rights. “There is a direct correlation between the obligation of investing in the rights and the return on investment”, she said.
Return on investment
Over 8 billion dollars a year is necessary to meet the actual need of family planning. That would have a return of investment of 11.8 billion dollars. For instance, 5.7 billion would be saved on health care for mothers and infants.
Women and men want to decide on the number and spacing of their children. Men want to contribute to the aspirations of their wives and daughters. They need our support”, Albrectsen said.
At this point she handed over the State of the World Population 2012 to Rob Swartbol, director-general International Cooperation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Swartbol:” The report provides a clear agenda to make a difference. Your organisation and UNFPA can count on The Netherlands to do our part. SRHR will remain one of the policy priorities of the Dutch government. Liliane Ploumen, Minister for Development Cooperation, has even put it on top of list of four policy priorities.
Making family planning possible for everyone will pay out an economic dividend. Because healthier mothers will have better educated children from which everyone benefits. We need to keep the momentum. We can only succeed if we join forces. We will count on you and you can count on us.”
Afters Swartbol’s speech some people take part in a panel discussion that was chaired by Yvonne Bogaarts, head of the Advocacy Department of Rutgers. She said: “Acknowledment of SRHR is of extreme importance because then we can address violations.”
Other quotes from the panellists:
- Sunila Abeysekera UAF/ISS: “We need to pay special attention to marginalised groups, such as migrants, and for transgenders. Some harmful practices (like Female Genital Mutilation -FMG) need to be addressed regardless culture and tradion. Countries hesitate to address these issues, but there is no place for cultural relativism.”
- Anna Timmerman of Human Rights Watch: “ Many countries lack standardised procedures for women to complain about health care. We are pressing for guidelines.”
- Kevin Moody of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+): “It is of great importance that people living with HIV are able to enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights. That is why we stand for positive living, dignity and prevention.”
Press release UNFPA
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Pictures by Rose Ieneke van Kalsbeek