Human rights needed in family planning
Elly Burhaini Faizal
The Jakarta Post
Experts have said that a human rights-based approach was the key to ensuring the success of the family planning program.
Stan Berstein, an expert working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said on Wednesday that through a human rights-based approach “everyone, men and women, of all ages, everywhere in the world should be empowered to exercise their rights to decide on the number, time and spacing of their children”.
Berstein made his speech during the launch of the 2012 State of World Population report titled “By Choice, Not By Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development” jointly held by the UNFPA and the National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN).
The report released globally on Wednesday said that millions of people from countries around the world found that their rights to access family planning were still being denied.
A human rights-based approach, said Berstein, would give people access to proper information, good and non-discriminative treatment and quality services on family planning. “In this regard, people are treated not just as a target of a particular program,” he said.
Ninuk Widyantoro, an activist from the Women’s Health Foundation, said that with the rights-based perspective women would be in charge of any decision regarding their own health.
She said the right to family planning was crucial as more than 90 percent of total contraceptive users were women.
“It is about how a person, especially a woman can exercise her rights over her own body and make decisions such as when to start having sexual intercourse, when and with whom to get married, when is the right time to have a baby, how many children to have, and how many years between children,” said Ninuk.
The right to family planning was included in the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) agreed in the Tehran Conference on Human Rights in 1968, when countries affirmed that individuals and couples had the right to make responsible and voluntary decisions concerning time, number and spacing of their children.
It is estimated that in the early 1960s only about 15 percent of women in developing countries used family-planning methods. As countries began implementing rights-based approaches to family planning, the figure increased to 63 percent using any contraceptive method while 50 percent are using modern methods.
“This is a success rate that many other development programs would envy,” Berstein said.
The agenda had not yet been completed, however, as millions of women still lack access to reproductive health services.
According to the report, 222 million women are believed to lack access to modern contraceptives. They either don’t want to have another birth or they want to delay the timing before the next birth, but are not currently using any types of contraceptive.
Women who lacked access to contraceptives account for more than 80 percent of the total 80 million unintended pregnancies, projected for this year. About 40 million of the total unintended pregnancies affecting women who lack access to modern contraceptives will likely end in abortion.
The report also found that female sterilization is the most common contraceptive method, followed by Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs).
Data from the Indonesian Health and Demography Survey (SDKI) shows that the number of users of IUDs now stands at 3.5 percent, down from 13.2 percent in 1987.
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