Press Statement by Lakshmi Puri at the Women Deliver Conference


Press Statement by UN Women Acting Head Lakshmi Puri at the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 28 May.

I would like to highlight a few points that are critical to our ability to help women, who deliver for the world, and for us to make the world deliver for women in the best way possible.

At UN Women we believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights are critical rights of women and girls. Today we also had the Prime Minister of Malaysia say it was a human right to have family planning services, for example, which are an integral part of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

This human right, this women’s and girls’ basic right, is very important for gender equality and women’s empowerment. So we give it a central place in all our advocacy as UN Women, in all our knowledge hub functions where we collect best policies, best practices, what works, what doesn’t, in what circumstances, where we consider what are the enablers and what are the gaps.

Through our intergovernmental normative function, there are innumerable gold standards in terms of women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights. These are represented in the Cairo Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform of Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. All of these commitments are there but Governments have to implement them. First and foremost, the call is to implement the commitments Governments have made through these instruments.

Another important aspect is that sexual and reproductive health and rights services have to be accessible, affordable, sustainable, have beneficiary accountability, and available to all women in all circumstances in all settings. Rural women often get excluded, as do women in conflict, refugees, disabled women, indigenous women – everyone must have access; it’s a human right.

We also need to deal with the root causes of poor sexual and reproductive health, such as poverty, traditional harmful practices, and the misinterpretation of religion, culture and tradition to justify discrimination and inequality and harm to women.

I would like to emphasize that all of this cannot be achieved unless all the systems around sexual and reproductive health, such as promoting and protecting women’s rights in the economic field, increasing women’s political participation and leadership, ending violence against women, and implementing gender responsive plans and budgets, are improved.

Investing in women and gender equality and women’s rights as much as in sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls is the highest return investment you can make. We call upon Governments and the private sector, reinforced by the engagement of civil society represented so well here at Women Deliver, and all stakeholders and practitioners in the field to deliver for women, because they deliver for us.

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Lakshmi Puri visits Malaysia, Japan and the Republic of Korea