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Strong global commitments at UNGA by SheDecides Governmental Champions on SRHR, CSE and access to safe abortion

5th October 2023

World leaders and ministers gathered last week at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, to discuss how the 17 global goals on Sustainable Development can be reached by 2030 - leaving no one behind. 

With only 7 years left to achieve the global commitments, the moment presented an opportunity to accelerate action and demand progress.

As a political movement working to advance bodily autonomy and SRHR for all, SheDecides attended UNGA to support Champions and to follow the discussions around the goals on health, gender equality, education and peaceful and inclusive societies.

Putting a Spotlight on ICPD+30

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a major opportunity in 2024 for governments to celebrate progress and accelerate concrete action to advance their commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

To mark this, UNFPA hosted a high-level event at UNGA, together with the government of Bulgaria and Sweden to discuss next steps needed. The message was clear: sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) must be at heart of sustainable development to ensure health and gender equality, or there will never be sustainable development for all.

There was a call for collective efforts to advance the agenda, as well as to push back where fundamental rights are being attacked and rolled back. Several governments stressed the need for putting young people front and center of development.

Natalia Kanem, ED UNFPA, said:

“Imagine how the world could look like if all 8 billion of us had the right to control our own bodies and reproductive choices. It is a question of dignity and the right to decide, particularly for women and young people if, when and with whom to have children - that benefits not only the individual but also the whole society”.

SheDecides Governmental Champions Speak Out

Many SheDecides Governmental Champions attended UNGA, hosting events and speaking out for bodily autonomy. What did SheDecides Governmental Champions say?

Canada: Canada supports SRHR globally to ensure that women and girls in all their diversity, receive the SRH services they need. We provide support for the most neglected and the most underfunded areas of SRH, including safe abortion care. In the face of growing opposition that we are witnessing towards SRHR and gender equality, Canada continues to carry a bold and unapologetic advocacy to advance these goals. We acknowledge the importance of adolescents and youth at the forefront, if we want to see real progress for the future.” Kristen Chenier, Director Global Health Policy, Infectious Diseases and Pandemic Preparedness, Global Affairs Canada

Finland:The government of Finland confirms its commitment to advance gender equality and right to self-determination of women and girls, which is a fundamental element of basic human rights and freedoms. In order to make informed choices and to have control over their own bodies, women and girls need knowledge about their rights and the available options. This is why Comprehensive Sexuality Education is crucial.” Pasi Hellman, Under-Secretary of State (Development Policy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland

The Netherlands: “We can only build a sustainable world when all 8 billion people can exercise their rights, their choices and responsibilities. We are still far away from our goals and witnessing a roll- back of our rights in many places. We need to look at future generations and challenges. Young people need to be at the decision-making tables now so that we can ensure SRHR for all. You can count on the Netherlands!” Pascalle Grotenhuis, Director General for International Cooperation, the Netherlands

Norway:There is mounting pressure against women and girls SRHR. Many lack both knowledge of SRHR and access to services, including safe abortion. We need more action on that. This is a top priority for my government and we are deeply committed to work for everyone’s right to decide over their own bodies. That is essential for a life in freedom and dignity and a prerequisite for gender equality. I promise we will hang in there for as long as it takes!" Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister for Development Cooperation, Norway

Sweden: “Global pushback has restricted access to key information and services that saves lives, such as comprehensive sexuality education and safe abortion. We must work actively so women and girls are free to decide over their own lives and bodies.” Johan Forssell, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Sweden

South Africa: “When we work together, we make great strides in advancing what we need to do. Overcoming challenges can only be done through concerted global action. We must continue to do so with renewed energy. South Africa fully supports the ICPD agenda and to galvanize the efforts and action that is needed. 2030 is just around the corner!” Lindiwe Zulu, Minister for Social Development South Africa.