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Innabuyog condemns Rio+20 decision to exclude women’s reproductive health

Statement by Innabuyog

The recently concluded Rio+ 20 Conference on Sustainable Development revealed another systemic neglect on women’s welfare. The Conference’s final document showed that it has denied the inclusion of women’s reproductive health rights that should have been approved by participating governments.

The Rio+ Conference was held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil on June 20-22 to mark the 20 th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. It was participated by thousands of representatives from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups. It aims to talk about how to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. From the result of the conference, the governments are expected to adopt clear and focused practical measures for implementing sustainable development.

The refusal to recognize the correlation of women’s health and sustainable development further proves the lack of political will of the states of their responsibility to provide proper reproductive health care to their citizens. Maternal mortality rate remains high especially in poor countries because of the lack of access to basic maternal and reproductive health care in many countries. Here in the Philippines, there is an increase in the maternal mortality rate from 162 deaths in 2006, to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010. Hence, reproductive health service is one of the issues of women all over the globe that need to be immediately resolved by governments.

Reproductive health is a human right. Conventions such as Cairo Programme of Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Beijing Platform of Action mandates the recognition, protection and promotion of women’s reproductive rights a priority of governments, as it is essential for the advancement and development of women. But these rights are trampled by greed from superpowers. Instead of seeing that these rights are properly enjoyed, women are more trampled by anti-women and anti-people policies, which are imposed by imperialist dictates. In the Philippines, the women are made to follow family planning as suggested by the Millennium Development Goal. According to MGB, the best action to reduce poverty is to control the population.

Innabuyog-Gabriela reiterates that population is not the culprit of poverty. In fact, the population is the the never ending source of labor force. Labor force produces the needs of the people. Population is essential to the economic growth of a society. It is not the population, but rather poor governance and submission to imperialist dictate that remove the chances of poor women and children for a better life. Privatization of schools, hospitals and other social services as part of P-Noy’s Public-Private Partnership Program denies the poor Filipinos their basic needs. The approval of Reproductive Health Bill of Gabriela Women’s Party is rejected. This bill seeks to benefit of the over-all health welfare of the Filipino woman. Lack of employment and meager wage unbefitting for a Filipino family’s basic necessities also result to severe poverty in the Philippines. There is also the continued neglect to pursue national industrialization that is supposed to bring back profit to the country and to the Filipino people.

Women’s health care is essential for sustainable development. To neglect a woman’s reproductive health right is to weaken the chances of a stronger society. Women play a large role in sustainable development. As proven in indigenous cultures, women have a great role in maintaining the balance of a community’s needs vis a vis the future generation. But, poverty, malnutrition and inaccessible health care account for the increase in maternal death. The exclusion of reproductive health care in Rio+ threatens the role of women in sustainable development.

Women’s rights are human rights! People and the environment before profit!

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