Fifteen years ago, governments and civil society gathered for the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, convened under the auspices of the United Nations. The resulting Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments, marked the first time that the reproductive and sexual health and rights of women became a central element in an international agreement on population and development.
At the beginning of August, feminists from Latin America and the Caribbean met in Panama to determine how the region has come in realizing the Programme of Action. I talked to Nirvana González Rosa, the General Coordinator of IWHC partner organization Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN), about the movement for reproductive rights in the region:
- Reproductive rights are, and have been, one of our strongest and longest struggles in the region, even in countries with progressive governments. We are confronting strong fundamentalist forces that are appointed to government positions or are very influential with parlametarians. Everyone knows that this has resulted in big step backwards for women’s human rights. Such is the case in Dominican Republic, in Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil. Even in Mexico City, where the struggle for legalizing abortion was won two years ago, reproductive rights are seriously threatened by the conservative forces of the other Mexican states.
The the struggle for ensuring the separation of church and states, a principle outlined in almost every country constitution, has become more and more strong.
Reproductive and sexual rights is a matter of human rights, a matter of democracy. If people, particularly women, do not have the basic right to make choices and decide what happens to their bodies, what kind of democracy are we talking about?
To read the full statement issued by feminist leaders following the Panama meeting, click here.