Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Will Break Cycle of Poverty

Respect for human rights and the elimination of inequality must be emphasized alongside of efforts to reduce poverty, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, at the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on Population and Development of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said she is “absolutely convinced that providing universal access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as access to education and employment, can effectively break the cycle of poverty in which millions and millions of women, men, and adolescents are trapped in this region,” reports UN Wire.

Obaid urged President Bush to reinstate funding for the UNFPA, saying, “We hope there is a change in policy that will allow [Bush] to release the funds that have been given to us by US Congress,” reports the Associated Press.

The ECLAC meeting was held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where 179 countries adopted the plan that looked at the relationship between population and development and the importance of promoting sexual education and access to family planning as a method of slowing down the world’s population growth.

Meanwhile, at the ECLAC meetings, US Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) attempted to block the reaffirmation of the ICPD because of the terms “sexuality” and “reproductive rights.” Smith urged other nations “to consider instructing [their] delegation[s] not to reaffirm” the ICPD, reports the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). According to CHANGE, the President and First Lady of Guatemala received a letter from Smith stating that the ICPD is a direct attack “on the right to life, family rights, and national sovereignty.”

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UN Wire 6/30/04; CHANGE 6/30/04; UNFPA 6/29/04; 7/01/04

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