Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.

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“The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place:  these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. “The key now is to implement those laws and standards to make enjoyment of human rights a reality on the ground.”

One of the most pressing global human rights concerns that the United States can easily help improve is women’s access to family planning services and protection from HIV/AIDS. Every minute, a young woman becomes infected with HIV/AIDS. Women need reproductive health programs to be integrated with HIV/AIDS services, and vice-versa, for improved efficiency and effectiveness in preventing AIDS infection and unplanned pregnancy and improving maternal and child health.

The United States, through PEPFAR – the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – has made an unprecedented commitment to helping create an AIDS Free Generation.  Yet, PEPFAR funds cannot be used to purchase family planning commodities, nor are family planning services provided at PEPFAR sites, meaning that women cannot access a full range of contraceptives at the same site where they receive HIV/AIDS testing, counseling, or treatment. Moreover, continued U.S.-funding preferences for abstinence-based programs undermine comprehensive HIV-prevention services, including the provision of condoms.

TAKE ACTION: Urge decision makers to integrate comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services with HIV/AIDS treatment for women globally.

LEARN MORE: Read our week-long blog series about human rights.

Media Resources: United Nations; United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 12/10/13; Feminist Majority Foundation; Feminist Campus 12/10/13

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