World Population Day: Matter of Human Rights


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The theme of this year World Population Day, observed on July 11, is Family Planning is a Human Right. In India, data suggests, has the largest number of women with unmet need for contraception in the world.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.

The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, stated unequivocally: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”

Embedded in this legislative language was a game-changing realization: Women and girls have the right to avoid the exhaustion, depletion and danger of too many pregnancies, too close together. Men and women have the right to choose when and how often to embrace parenthood if at all. Every individual has the human right to determine the direction and scope of his or her future in this fundamental way.

Nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning:

  • Non-discrimination: Family planning information and services cannot be restricted on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, political affiliation, national origin, age, economic status, place of residence, disability status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Available: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
  • Accessible: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
  • Acceptable: Contraceptive services and information must be provided in a dignified manner, respecting both modern medical ethics and the cultures of those being accommodated.
  • Good quality: Family planning information must be clearly communicated and scientifically accurate.
  • Informed decision-making: Every person must be empowered to make reproductive choices with full autonomy, free of pressure, coercion or misrepresentation.
  • Privacy and confidentiality: All individuals must enjoy the right to privacy when seeking family planning information and services.
  • Participation: Countries have an obligation to ensure the active and informed participation of individuals in decisions that affect them, including health issues.
  • Accountability: Health systems, education systems, leaders and policymakers must be accountable to the people they serve in all efforts to realize the human right to family planning.

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