14. Life Below Water and SRHR

Life below water is the focus of SDG 14. It aims to “conserve and sustainability use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources” (United Nations, 2016). Globally water bodies face immense threats from pollution and over-exploitation of plant and animal life. Not only does this damage the ecosystems below the water and contribute to climate change, but it threatens the livelihoods of  3 billion people worldwide who depend on marine and coastal biodiversity.

Women are disproportionately vulnerable to polluted water resources. Poor nutrition and diarrhea from contaminated water pose a risk to pregnant women in particular and have been linked to negative birth outcomes such as low birth weight.Women and girls are often responsible for fetching water from scarcer and more remote sources.

There are  conventions and laws that support life below water as envisioned in SDG 14 The sections relevant to SRHR can be found below.

You can see how SDG 14 – Life Below Water – relates to the SRHR of different groups below.

Women
Women SRHR of Women and Life Below Water
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With increasingly commercialized fish production, and rising levels of pollution in water bodies, the level of mercury being consumed through fish is increasing drastically. Mercury consumption disproportionately impacts the health of pregnant women, and has adverse health consequences on the fetus (Bose-O’Reily et al., 2010: 13).

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Women and SRHR.
The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
  • 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.
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.
Children
Children SRHR of Children and Life Below Water
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With increasingly commercialized fish production, and rising levels of pollution in water bodies, the level of mercury being consumed through fish is increasing drastically. Mercury consumption has adverse health consequences on the fetus (Bose-O’Reily et al., 2010: 13).
In addition to this, pollution and overfishing of the ocean and water bodies impacts fishing communities, who may resort to child marriage or to selling children off if they are unable to make ends meet.

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Children and SRHR
Convention on the rights of the child, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
  • Article 1.1 States Parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as provided for by the present Protocol.
  • Article 8.1 All state parties shall inform child victims of their rights, their role and the scope, timing and progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases.
  • Article 9.2 States Parties shall promote awareness in the public at large, including children, through information by all appropriate means, education and training, about the preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the present Protocol.
  • Article 10.3 States Parties shall promote the strengthening of international cooperation in order to address the root causes, such as poverty and underdevelopment, contributing to the vulnerability of children to the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 10.0 Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation.
  • Article 13.2 Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.
United Nations Declarations of Commitment on HIV/Aids.
  • Section 65 By 2003, develop and by 2005 implement national policies and strategies to: build and strengthen governmental, family and community capacities to provide a supportive environment for orphans and girls and boys infected and affected by HIV/AIDS including by providing appropriate counselling and psycho-social support; ensuring their enrolment in school and access to shelter, good nutrition, health and social services on an equal basis with other children; to protect orphans and vulnerable children from all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, trafficking and loss of inheritance.
  • Section 67 Urge the international community, particularly donor countries, civil society, as well as the private sector to complement effectively national programmes to support programmes for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in affected regions, in countries at high risk and to direct special assistance to sub-Saharan Africa;