No Excuses or Exceptions to Sexual Rights

Last month IPPF Director-General Tewodros Melesse gave a speech in which he reaffirmed the Federation's commitment to sexual rights. Here is an inspiring excerpt from that speech:

IPPF has a zero-tolerance towards human rights violations. Young people are excluded from contraceptive services because they are not married, women are denied the right to access family planning and safe abortion, men who have sex with men are excluded from access to information and interventions to protect their health. We believe in social justice. We believe that every person is equal, and the work we do is based on principles of non-discrimination. There can be no exceptions to these values. Going forward we are very clear.

First, we shall promote basic rights. There is still a lack of international consensus on human rights in relation to reproductive and sexual health. We shall fight for national fulfillment of these rights in every country in which we operate. We are proud of the IPPF Sexual Rights Declaration, but there is still much to be done to achieve these rights globally.

Second, we shall defend those rights. As I said in The Lancet last year, 'The dialogue around sexuality and family planning tends to moralize and dichotomize life and choice. I want to reclaim the language from the self-proclaimed pro-life movement. For those of us working in family planning and sexual reproductive health and rights, we are the ones who are pro-life because we care about life—the lives of women, children, and families.' We need to engage and challenge more rigorously with the arguments put forward by the anti-choice movements. We battle on unequal terms. The opposition is impolite and simplistic; we, on the other hand, are polite and complex.

Third, we shall monitor sexual rights. Working in greater collaboration with other organizations that promote and defend human rights will give wider coverage to our issues, and also protect our often very vulnerable Member Associations, volunteers, and staff members who work in isolated situations trying to bring about meaningful change. Monitoring involves not only whether the rights are in place in terms of laws, policies, and conventions, but whether resources and services have also been provided to allow them to be enacted fully.

We shall continue to be a diverse, united, and highly performing Federation that takes seriously accountability. Accountability needs to be deeper than self examination. We must also be accountable to the public. Unless we can clearly communicate to those who are outside of the world of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) not only what we do but the value and contribution we make, then it will be impossible for us to get the political support we need to continue our work.

At 60 years old, we are proud of our past and the inheritance we have. As we look forward I want us to continue to be a great social movement and leading contributor to the SRHR movement of the 21st century.

To learn more about Tewodros Melesse's role and his road map for the future, click play below.

Moving Sexual Rights from the Margins to the Mainstream


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