The United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA has called on the world to stand up together for people facing discrimination and stigmatization everywhere in response to the call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind.”
“We will strive to uphold their inherent dignity and human rights, while working for their empowerment as active partners in our efforts to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Not just today, but every day”, said UNFPAExecutive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin on Saturday, 10 December in New York during celebration marking Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dr. Osotimehin said the opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights standat the heart of the Programme of Action of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, which guides the work of UNFPA.
“As we join in this year’s theme to “Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today”, I applaud our staff who, working with national partners, are defending the rights of the most marginalized and excluded and bringing to light the discrimination they face.”
He said one of the rights the world fights for every day is the right to have access to information and services that ensure or improve sexual and reproductive health, adding “This is a human right that is critical to saving lives, advancing development and promoting gender equality.”
The UNFPA Executive Director said this universal right is at the core of sustainable development, but noted that sadly, millions of people, mainly women and young people, especially girls, continue to be denied this human right, largely due to stigma and discrimination.
“That is why addressing the structural barriers of discrimination, including challenging discriminatory laws, social norms and stigma that perpetuate inequality and disparities, is an essential part of UNFPA’s work”, he emphasized.
He said UNFPA supports and promotes the rights of all people to enjoy good sexual and reproductive health, and works with people with disabilities or living with HIV to address their sexual and reproductive health needs.
“We advocate for strengthening the rights of indigenous peoples and promote their access to sexual and reproductive health services, such as voluntary family planning. We promote the right of teenage girls to access youth-friendly services, education and skills development, and we tackle gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.”
Dr. Osotimehin said in all of these initiatives, UNFPA strives to empower individuals and groups to participate and have a voice in decisions that affect them, as well as help national, regional and international human rights bodies highlight these issues and assist national authorities in monitoring compliance with established standards.