05. Gender Equality and SRHR

SDG 5 aims to “achieve equality across genders in all areas of life and empower all women and girls in society” (United Nations, 2016). Regionally and globally, women experience extremely high levels of sexual, physical and mental abuse. Millions of girls are exposed to early and forced marriages, gender-based violence, and coercion. This denies them their right to childhood and to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights, including the right to choose whether, when and with whom to have sex and to have children. LGBTIQ+ individuals are also subject to immense discrimination and inequality in all sectors of society, which remains largely patriarchal and homophobic.  For SRHR to be realised for all, gender equality is a priority.

There are various conventions and laws that support gender equality as envisioned in SDG 5. The sections relevant to SRHR can be found below.

You can see how SDG 5 – Gender Equality – relates to the SRHR of different groups below.

Women
Women SRHR of Women and Gender Equality
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The UN population fund has found that worldwide approximately one in three women will experience gender based violence, either physically or sexually (United Nations Population Fund, 2016). Gender based violence is often in the form of sexual assault or harassment, and therefore is commonly a direct violation of SRHR.

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Women and SRHR.
The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
  • Article 6.0 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
  • Article 10.0 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure their equal rights with men in the field of education.
  • Article 11.2 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and ensure their effective right to work.
  • Article 12.1 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
  • Article 12.2 States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Article 16.1 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.
Convention against torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 13.0 Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.
  • Article 14.1 Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 12.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child.
  • Article 10.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits. Absolute protection and assistance should be accorded to the family … particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of
United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
  • Section 54 By 2005, reduce the proportion of infants infected with HIV by 20 per cent, and by 50 per cent by 2010, by: ensuring that 80 per cent of pregnant women accessing antenatal care have information, counselling and other HIV prevention services available to them, increasing the availability of and by providing access for HIV-infected women and babies to effective treatment to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as through effective interventions for HIV-infected women, including voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, access to treatment, especially anti-retroviral therapy and, where appropriate, breast milk substitutes and the provision of a continuum of care.
  • Section 60 By 2005, implement measures to increase capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and health services, including sexual and reproductive health, and through prevention education that promotes gender equality within a culturally and gender sensitive framework;
  • Section 61 By 2005, ensure development and accelerated implementation of national strategies for women’s empowerment, promotion and protection of women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and reduction of their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through the elimination of all forms of discrimination, as well as all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional and customary practices, abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence, battering and trafficking in women and girls.
Men
Men SRHR of Men and Gender Equality
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Men face immense societal pressures to fit the hetero-normative description of the patriarchal figure which is critical to deconstruct for gender equality to be realized.

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Men and SRHR
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 3.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.
  • Article 13.1 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS
  • Section 47 By 2003, establish time-bound national targets to achieve the internationally agreed global prevention goal to reduce by 2005 HIV prevalence among young men and women aged 15 to 24 in the most affected countries by 25 per cent and by 25 per cent globally by 2010, and to intensify efforts to achieve these targets as well as to challenge gender stereotypes and attitudes, and gender inequalities in relation to HIV/AIDS, encouraging the active involvement of men and boys.
  • Section 53 By 2005, ensure that at least 90 per cent, and by 2010 at least 95 per cent of young men and women aged 15 to 24 have access to the information, education, including peer education and youth-specific HIV education, and services necessary to develop the life skills required to reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection; in full partnership with youth, parents, families, educators and health-care providers.
LGBTIQ+
LGBTIQ+ SRHR of LGBTIQ+ Communities and Gender Equality
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LGBTIQ+ people experience not only pressure to conform to socially constructed roles for gender and sexuality, but in often cases, violence (SIDA, 2010: 17).

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for LGBTIQ+ communities and SRHR
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 1.1 All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  • Article 12.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Universal Declaration on Human Rights
  • Article 1.0 Everyone is entitled to all of the rights and freedoms put forth in this declaration, without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
United Nations Resolution - Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Decides To address the multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of violence and discrimination faced by persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity; to conduct, facilitate and support the provision of advisory services, technical assistance capacity- building and international cooperation in support of national efforts to combat violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Article 26.0 All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
United Nations Human Rights Committee
  • UHRC has found that the treaty includes an obligation to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.