At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), nations agreed on the need to secure universal access to reproductive health, protect reproductive rights, and promote gender equality, and endorsed an essential policy and program package to prevent unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and deaths due to childbirth and unsafe abortion.

The sexual and reproductive health and rights essential policy package requires leadership across sectors at the highest levels of government and the collaboration of international development partners, professional associations, and civil society. National bodies, such as planning commissions, are needed to ensure that all elements are funded under the revenue budget, and that responsibilities for implementation, oversight, and accountability are clear.

This brief describes in practical terms the justification for and components of the essential policy and program package. Companion briefs describe pathways to integrating sexual and reproductive health services and the components of comprehensive sexuality education.