• Discussion Paper

A contested issue

The rise in international opposition to the right to sexual self-determination (2020)

Cover A contested issue Open image in Lightbox

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At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, the international community agreed that all individuals should have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly about the number and the spacing of their children and have the information, education and means to do so. After all, self-determination – especially for women – is key to sustainable development. However, progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights is slow, partly due to continuing opposition to the Cairo Programme of Action (PoA). The discussion paper shows from which sides headwinds come and which arguments are being put forward by opponents like the Vatican, evangelical Christians in the USA and "anti-Choice" movements in Europe in order to undermine the implementation of the ICPD goals.

The Berlin Institute would like to thank the Dirk Rossmann GmbH for funding this project. The Berlin Institute is solely responsible for the content of this paper. The Berlin Institute would also like to thank the DSW – Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung for funding the translation of the discussion paper.

Category: International population policies
published: 4th November 2019

Selected Figures

Maternal Mortality Ratio 2017
At the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, the representatives of the international community agreed, among other things, to reduce the risk of maternal and infant mortality and to improve health care. Despite some progress, less developed countries still lag behind in the health sector. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, maternal mortality was in 2015 around 550 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is almost 36 times higher than in North America or Europe.© Berlin-Institut
Enactment and abrogation of the Mexico City Policy
No other country in the world has taken such a zigzag course on sexual self-determination in the past 35 years as the United States of America. Under a Democratic president, the United States is usually among the proponents of SRHR. However, while Republicans are at the head of the country, the pro-life activists who are trying to undermine these very rights are the ones who set the tone. This has been reflected by the enactment and abrogation of the Mexico City Policy. According to this policy, foreign NGOs cannot receive US development funds if they are in any way involved with abortion - that is, if they offer information and counselling for affected women, perform abortions or work towards their legalisation.© Berlin-Institut
Contraception Atlas 2019
The EU is seen as an advocate for freedom of choice in all matters of reproduction and sexuality. In fact, Europe has made great progress in this area since 1994. Nevertheless, the possibilities for Europeans to plan their own family and determine their own reproduction vary greatly from one country to another. This is illustrated by the Contraception Atlas of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), which assesses access to information, counselling and family planning resources in the EU and other European countries using a total of 15 indicators.© Berlin-Institut


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