News – Article

SRHR globally recognised as vital to combat poverty for women and girls

Back to archive
27 March 2024 Tags: CSW68, TFGBV, UN
Blog by Eefke Deneer, advocate at Rutgers

Looking back on two busy weeks at the 68th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I’m happy to see that sexual and reproductive health and rights was recognised as key to combat poverty, especially for women and girls. During difficult negotiations against a ticking clock, Member States worked towards commitments to accelerate gender equality. This year, the CSW focused on addressing poverty and strengthening financial institutions.  

UN HQ New York

Working towards commitments  

Almost 200 Member States gathered to discuss these topics, working towards global commitments that all states could agree on. A tough task, considering the many opposing views on – amongst others – human rights, discrimination and sexual and reproductive health and rights. To make things even more complicated, discussions had to take place in a limited time due to the new restricted working hours at the United Nations. Where in previous years negotiations could go on until late into the night, austerity measures led to strict cut-offs at six p.m. this year. It remained suspenseful until the very last minute before the deadline on Friday, with sexual and reproductive health being on the line, if an outcome document would be adopted. Fortunately, the Member States ended up agreeing on a new outcome document that includes references to sexual and reproductive health and rights, division of unpaid care work and the role of adolescents. We’re happy to see some of our priorities reflected here. 

Sexual and reproductive health and rights, and poverty 

We advocated for the recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights as an important tool to prevent and combat poverty, especially for women and girls. Think of adolescent pregnancies, for example, which often cause school dropouts. We can help prevent this by ensuring access to age and developmentally appropriate sexuality education and information, contraception and a safe abortion, allowing girls to finish school and have a better chance at paid work.  

That’s not all – another important contributor to women’s poverty is the unequal division of unpaid care work. As we emphasised in our written statement together with Equimundo for this year’s CSW:


“We need Member States to provide paid parental leave and other leave schemes, health system reforms, and state supported childcare. If these are not provided then women and girls will continue to carry out all care duties and will not be able to participate in education, employment, public and political life and the economy.”  

I’m happy to see that the new outcome document (also known as Agreed Conclusions) addresses access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, paid parental leave and combatting sexual and gender-based violence. Member States included specific references to adolescents and girls, recognising the age- and gender-specific barriers that young girls and women face in terms of poverty, as well as the importance of their full, equal and meaningful participation in strengthening institutions and gender-responsive financing. While these documents tend not to use the most progressive language on sexual and reproductive health and rights, it is important that these topics are recognised globally.  

Civil society organisations and activists from around the world were present in great numbers to follow the negotiations, connect and exchange. On the sidelines of the negotiations, organisations hosted events in which they shared their expertise on gender equality. Rutgers organised an event about to demonstrate that technology-facilitated gender-based violence is real and to unite individuals from diverse backgrounds and organisations to ensure it remains at the forefront of discussions and actions. At an event hosted by UNFPA, we spoke about how access to sexuality education and information helps to combat gender-based violence. We shared the importance of young people learning about giving and respecting consent and spoke about how our partner-organisations in the global south work towards sexuality education that fits best within their context.   

As I reflect on my first experience at the CSW in New York, I’m struck by the importance of these discussions happening at a global level. Seeing representatives from governments and civil society from all over the world come together to discuss how we advance gender equality has been an inspiring experience. The discussions around sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially for young people, shows the importance of us and other advocates being in these spaces, sharing our expertise and working together towards global access to SRHR.  

Want to stay in the know?

Join our network and stay up to date.

Follow us or get in contact


Read our latest articles, studies and columns on sexual health and rights.

All news

Uw browser (Internet Explorer 11) is verouderd en wordt niet meer ondersteund. Hierdoor werkt deze website mogelijk niet juist. Installeer Google Chrome of update uw browser voor meer internetveiligheid en een beter weergave.