Categories Health Care

Sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility

Sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility, says Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

“It is the basis for bodily autonomy, fundamental freedom, and human rights,” Zulu said.

Zulu was speaking at the closing of Sexual Reproductive Justice Conference, where she officially unveiled the second report of the High-Level Commission (HLC) on the Nairobi Summit on International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) follow-up titled ‘Sexual and reproductive justice as the vehicle to deliver the Nairobi Summit commitments.”

Zulu said the conference could not have come at a better time as the country celebrates Human Rights Month under the theme “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future!”

She said the month’s celebrations present a space to deepen and celebrate the rights to equality, human dignity, freedom of movement and residence, language and culture, as well as the right to life.

However, she warned that we cannot afford to celebrate all these rights without reflecting on what makes sexual and reproductive justice, “a human right component that is not only important for improving the general health and wellbeing of a population but, also fundamental for achieving sustainable development.”

“The concept of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) touch base on various issues including pregnancy, childbirth, sexual orientation, bodily autonomy, agency and choice, which continue to pose various risks, especially, for vulnerable and marginalised persons in South Africa,” Zulu said.

The Minister said the conference was about reflecting on seminars held in various areas of the country’s provinces, which seeks to ensure that the marginalised and vulnerable have the power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction.

She said the seminars served as a build-up and an opportune moment to reflect on the highlights from the High-Level Commission Report on Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Report (2021) titled, “No Exceptions, No Exclusions: Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice for all.”

According to HLC’s report, sexual and reproductive justice is the key to the realization of the Nairobi Summit commitments.

The HLC’s report stresses and calls to action for states to prioritise those facing the worst disparities in sexual and reproductive justice.

In order to fulfil the commitments outlined in the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) and its review conferences, as well as the commitments made at the Nairobi Summit, Zulu said an intersectional approach is crucial in order to leave no one behind.

“The HLC’s report also put emphasis on linking the sexual and reproductive justice framework to other justice agendas and issues such as education, environmental justice and economic justice. Sexual and reproductive justice is a prerequisite for achieving justice more broadly, and to end alarming disparities in sexual and reproductive justice.

“Applying a reproductive justice framework will ensure human rights and social justice are at the centre of all development efforts. It also creates opportunities for stakeholders to build solidarity and form a critical mass to effect change as sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility,” Zulu said.

The Minister also noted that despite the progress outlined in the HLC’s report, the three years that have passed since the Nairobi Summit have been marked by a global pandemic, continuing humanitarian crises, growing challenges from transnational anti-democratic movements and a growing urgent need to address the climate crisis.

She warned that without a reproductive justice lens in SRHR development efforts, there is a risk of oversight in decision-making, policies and programs that lack representation and inclusion resulting in social injustices.

“It is of utmost importance that as South Africa we act urgently to ensure the realisation of Nairobi Summit commitments and to consider the HLC’s recommendations and respond to the recommendations in a meaningful manner, especially during times when SRHR risks becoming side-lined.

“As we gear up for the ICPD30 review process in 2024, accountability for implementing the ICPD25 commitments is and remains key,” she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency