Friday, November 23, 2012

Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe

Warsaw, November 23, 2012

ASTRA Network proudly presents:


Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe.

The report was written within the frames of Southern Voices: Reclaiming and Redefining the Global South SRHR Agenda for 2015 coordinated by the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW).

To read/download the report go to:
To read the Executive Summary, scroll down.
RECLAIMING AND REDEFINING RIGHTS. ICPD+20: Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe.
Executive Summary

The 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) adopted a 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) with a broad mandate on interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, and advances in the education, economic status and empowerment of women. The year 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Cairo Conference. It is, therefore, necessary to reflect on the progress made, the challenges encountered and, based on these, to formulate strategic goals for ICPD’s agenda beyond 2014.

Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries failed to use ICPD as a framework to build a sustainable architecture to protect and promote women’s rights. The social and economic upheaval that took place in the CEE region in the 1990s has brought declining socio-economic conditions and increasing inequity throughout the region, and in all CEE countries there is a huge gender gap in the economic activity rate. Decision-making and political power is firmly held by men and not one of the seven countries surveyed for this report is even close to reaching the 30% quota of women’s political participation. This reflects the prevalence of deep-seated gender stereotypes that define women primarily as mothers and wives, assigning their role to the private sphere. Countries of the region are suffering a resurgence of patriarchal discourses and religious fundamentalisms which is reflected in setbacks with population and reproductive rights policies. In Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, and Russian Federation, there is a swing back towards pre-Cairo right-wing positions which limit people’s rights to make their own sexual and reproductive choices.

As a result, twenty years after Cairo, women still die unnecessarily due to unsafe abortion, pregnancy, or childbirth. Women and teen girls are suffering from the consequences of unsafe abortion and childbirth, and lack of access to respectful, caring, quality health services to which they have a right as citizens. A similar scenario of continued ill health and suffering exists for women with HIV/AIDS, reproductive cancers and infections, and unwanted pregnancies, in spite of the fact that the necessary technology and medical interventions are known. Neoliberal health policy transforms patients with rights to sexual and reproductive health into consumers who can (or cannot) pay for sexual and reproductive health. Another common denominator for the region is rampant homophobia and transphobia.

ICPD implementation has been slow in all countries, despite the acknowledged need to accelerate commitment and the effort to meet women’s needs and rights, known as the spirit of Cairo. While many new population and reproductive health policies have been introduced in the countries that form part of this study, they still do not clearly incorporate a human rights and women’s rights framework, either at a conceptual or programme level. There is also a large gap between what is stated and the actual implementation.

Barely two years to the end of the ICPD, the prognosis for achieving the objectives of the ICPD is generally not reassuring. Time is limited and population issues are generally difficult to turn around quickly. However, strategic or targeted planning, coupled with commitment, could still achieve much within a short time. While national conditions vary, the outcome of this monitoring project suggests that renewed focus by all countries – regarding the accessibility of sexuality education, affordable contraception and abortion services, as well as addressing the spreading HIV/AIDS pandemic – could galvanise Central and Eastern Europe’s lackluster move towards 2014 and beyond.

ASTRA Secretariat, ul. Nowolipie 13/15, 00-150 Warsaw, Poland,
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