TODAY -

Will global family planning meet galvanise governments to deliver on gender equality?

Shobha Shukla *

 2022 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2022) will be held in Thailand



Gender equality is an essential cog-in-the-wheel of human development which is socially just and ecologically sustainable. That is why governments worldwide have committed to deliver on this promise by 2030 along with other sustainable development goals (SDGs). But progress on gender equality and other SDGs has been sketchy and far from satisfactory. With less than 97 months left to meet these goals it is high time to listen to the alarm bells and take corrective actions to try to get on track to deliver on all SDGs, globally including those of gender equality and human rights “where no one is left behind”.

2022 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2022) will be held in Thailand for the first time in the ICFP history. Co-hosted by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, along with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Population and Community Development Association, this conference is an important forum where a broad range of stakeholders and experts who work on a wide array of issues around sexual and reproductive health and rights will take part. Will ICFP 2022 spur renewed commitments on gender justice?

Progress has happened but not enough, and not everywhere

Progress on gender equality and human rights has not been on track to meet the 2030 goals. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic had hit us, most countries in the world were not likely to meet the 2030 goals on gender equality.

Agrees Sonal Mehta, South Asia Regional Director of International Planned Parenthood Federation: “We would not have met our gender equality related targets and goals by 2030 even if the COVID-19 pandemic had not hit us.”

Also, progress is not uniform. A few countries have made considerable progress, and some are lagging far behind. There are inequalities between the Global North and Global South countries, and even within nations (rich and poor nations alike). Some countries have made progress on selective goals and targets while turning a blind’s eye on other goals and targets, or even taking regressive and harmful steps on some goals and targets.

A report by UNICEF points out that in all South Asian countries, patriarchal values and social norms keep gender inequalities alive. Discriminatory practices begin even before birth and affect every aspect of a child’s future. Throughout the South Asian region inequalities arising from caste, class, religion, ethnicity and location, are further complicated by severe gender-based discriminations that hold back progress and development for both girls and boys.

During COVID-19, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence against women and girls and other people of different gender identities and expressions, increased dangerously and recourse to justice and reparation was severely jeopardized. There was a high degree of intimate partner violence, said Mehta. She cites a report by UNICEF according to which about 37 percent of South Asian women experience intimate partner violence.

“Marea Verde” or “Green Wave” movement for #SafeAbortion rights

“Profound changes have happened in many countries to increase access to safe abortion, and to ensure young people have access to information and education they need on sexual and reproductive health and rights” said Mina Barling, Director of External Relations of International Planned Parenthood Federation.

The “Marea Verde” or “Green Wave” movement for abortion rights has touched the hearts of young people across Latin America. This community-led grassroots movements led by the youth of Latin American nations are demanding the right to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Landmark progress has happened in Argentina, Thailand, and Mexico in favour of access to safe abortion. For example, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that “criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional”. Likewise, in Benin, Kenya, Ireland, young people are crusading for bodily autonomy and right to sexual and reproductive health and rights powerfully, said Barling.

However, countries like the USA made decisions on bodily autonomy that threaten the gains made on gender equality and human rights. “We all watched with horror what happened in the US with overruling the Roe versus Wade decision, and saw those rights ripped away from women” rued Barling. To recall, in 1973 the US Supreme Court had legalized right to safe abortion in Roe vs Wade case, which was sadly and very unfortunately overruled in June 2022 making access to safe abortion a major challenge.

Will men take responsibility for family planning?

“The onus of family planning should not rest with women alone. Male sterilisation is shamefully low in India and other South Asian countries. This trend has to be reversed. We must incentivise permanent sterilisation both amongst males and females, but more amongst males,” said Dr Amita Pandey, Academic Editor of Asian Research Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, and Professor in Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in India.

“Since decades we have seen abysmally low rates of male sterilization compared to very high rates of female sterilization. Males often do not use condoms because ‘they do not enjoy with the condom on’. Such attitudes have to change towards men taking responsibility for not only of one’s own health but of others too. Condoms, for example, protect both sexual partners from HIV and 20-21 other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as well as from unintended pregnancy. We must ensure access to male and female condoms for everyone and everywhere, as well as all other science-based prevention options for STDs, HIV and unintended pregnancy,” said Dr Ishwar Gilada, who represents Asia Pacific region on the Governing Council of International AIDS Society (IAS), and is the longest serving HIV medical expert in India.

Do young people have a full spectrum of services to protect them from STDs, HIV, and unintended pregnancies?

An adolescent girl or young woman acquired HIV every two minutes in 2021. “The population of young people today, is the largest ever historically in the world. In Asia Pacific we have about a billion people who are in the age group of 10-24 years with a lot of diversities,” said Sonal Mehta. “But many reports from UN agencies point out that most of the young people are not well prepared or are ill-equipped with insufficient knowledge and they lack life-skills to negotiate safe and consensual relationships.”

Although rates of teenage pregnancy have declined in most parts of the world, they still remain alarming. Child marriages have also declined but in some parts remain a deep concern. Countries are at different levels with rolling out comprehensive sexually education for the young people but this is clearly not enough.

“If I am a 16 year old and I can step into a health setup without being feared or without being tabooed, and ask for a contraceptive, then I think that day the young will be able to ask for a HIV test without any adult consent” said Mehta. In India, those below 18 years of age need parental or guardian’s consent to take a HIV test.

Mehta believes that young people need to be in the driving seat. We need to provide opportunities, safe spaces and enabling platforms where they can speak up with confidence and trust, and access the full spectrum of health and social welfare services.


* Shobha Shukla wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is the award-winning founding Managing Editor and Executive Director of CNS (Citizen News Service) and is a feminist, health and development justice advocate.
She is a former senior Physics faculty of prestigious Loreto Convent College and current Coordinator of Asia Pacific Regional Media Alliance for Health and Development (APCAT Media).
Follow her on Twitter @shobha1shukla
This article was webcasted on November 074 2022.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • My Memories of Imphal #9 : Download
  • World Cancer Day at Imphal
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Bihari parties' in Nagaland election
  • Love for Unity :: Poem
  • Mental Health & Social Policy at Meghalaya
  • Couch surfing !
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Manipur Fashion Extravaganza #5 :: Gallery
  • World Wetland Day @Keibul Lamjao: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • Wild Edible Fleshy Fungi :: Book Review
  • World Wetlands Day at Keibul Lamjao
  • Cramps in legs and feet: What to do ?
  • Challenge for state in meeting JMM objective
  • Drug menace & the HIV reality
  • 74th Republic Day @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Chinese New Year @Bangkok 2023 :: Gallery
  • It's time for Wetlands restoration
  • Popularization of Science at Chandel
  • Aqua-based IFS model : Options
  • Want fabulous skin this Winter ?
  • Local contractor paying high price for past
  • Take the War on Drugs beyond
  • Sangai Fest: Anal Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Feb : Govt of Manipur
  • International Bioresource Conclave
  • Chanchui Khayi wins Mega Miss NE 2022
  • Happiness :: Poem
  • Indispensable e-Governance but
  • Mass movement must to preserve forests
  • Reaching out to the interiors
  • Singcha Wuya Won @ Kamjong :: Gallery
  • 4 (Manipur) Battalion the Assam Rifles
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Hazardous chemical contaminants in fishes
  • YouTube as a Career Choice
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • My belated New Year resolution
  • Healthcare inadequacy hallmark of rural area
  • Incursion from across border
  • Puya Awareness / Exhibition :: Gallery
  • February Calendar for Year 2023 : Tools
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Dealing with peer pressure: Tips for student
  • The inspiration to choose right
  • Sholas of Ootacamund
  • Critical analysis of reservation system
  • Manipur favourite destination for refugees
  • Disturbing call from Lamlongei
  • 74th Republic Day @ Kangla #1 :: Gallery
  • Whither women's reproductive health in Asia
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Primary Health Center (PHC) at Tamei
  • Center Manager @ Imphal
  • IT Advance Trainer @ Imphal
  • Mealybugs & their biological control in NE
  • Namesake varsities exploiting education
  • Already 30 days into 2023
  • My Memories of Imphal #8 : Download
  • MaolKeki Foundation celebrates 5th Anniv
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • As a war rages...
  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose #2
  • Wakhal Eronba (Leela) #2 :: Gallery
  • Echoes of Higher Education in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • National Tourism Day 2023
  • Multi-State Cooperative Seed Society
  • The Mute Tree :: Poem
  • Artificial Intelligence Weapons, World at risk
  • Axe falls on 5 as anti-drug drive intensifies
  • Imphal-Ukhrul road stretch
  • Barak Festival & Dam Plans: Contradictions
  • Sangai Fest: Thang Ta :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Metamorphosis: 2023, Naga CM not need ...
  • History of Diabetes
  • Green Chemistry, for a sustainable world #2
  • Mr Imphal East Body Building :: Gallery
  • Taibang Keithel (2018) :: Review
  • Seiboi Singsit: Top achiever in Forest Dept
  • A Legal Discussion on "Frontier Nagaland"
  • Netaji & Dattatreya Hosabale
  • Thirukkural, the universal scripture
  • Perennial boundary row
  • Growing traffic congestion in Imphal
  • Support of all essential to win war on drugs
  • NH-102, part of Indo-Burma Road :: Gallery
  • Transforming education for Govt schools
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Crying foul of officials of Forest Dept
  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose #1
  • Fish stock manipulation techniques #2
  • Workplace mental health matters
  • Education : Outside Manipur, why ?
  • Hand over case to CBI demand
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Lai Haraoba #7 :: Gallery
  • Swiss Artist in Manipur
  • Deepika Mayanglambam: Netaji Bose Award
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Yes to: "Nagas Are Moving Ahead"
  • 4th Plenary Session of World Meetei Council
  • Tips for preventing cold weather acne
  • No time for verbal spat over drug issue
  • Louroi Festival @ Khurai #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Green Chemistry, for a sustainable world #1
  • Avatar of God :: Poem
  • ABHM appoints President for Northeast
  • A journey towards knowing ourselves
  • Follow up action - dismissal from service
  • More than half a century of Statehood
  • My Memories of Imphal #7 : Download
  • Tanthapolis Cinema at Sanakeithel
  • Nagas are moving ahead : A Commentary
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Vermi with aquaculture for farmer's income
  • The shameful game behind the games
  • Sangai Fest: Basanta Raas #1 :: Gallery
  • My fear for Manipuri Khorirol
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • 50 years of NS films to be observed
  • Time to use election to defeat Status quoists
  • Courage Begets Crown :: Poem
  • RSS, Mohan Bhagwat's mind
  • Healthcare sector in hills on Govt radar
  • Bringing home the spirit of the WC
  • Tributes to Oja Naba Wareppa :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Mishti Doi : Kolkata Diary
  • Fish stock manipulation techniques #1
  • Vibrant border villages: A 'game changer'
  • Keep your hands soft and smooth this winter
  • Success tale of Phalee village
  • Drugs and poppy in dry Manipur
  • Fish Fair @Hapta Kangjeibung #2 :: Gallery
  • The Sangai Film Festival, 2022
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Missionaries left enduring righteousness
  • Transaction of budget & financial business
  • Reliance Foundation Youth Sports concluded
  • Improved highways perilous for rule resisters
  • An unlikely ally for ATSUM
  • Nupilan & its impact in Manipuri society
  • Romi Meitei's Eikhoigi Yum :: Review
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Selected Screen Projects for Screen Lab
  • Moirang & Port Blair in freedom struggle #2
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphelpat
  • 33rd Phek Area Sports Association Meet
  • Indian Army as a career choice
  • Multiple hurdles in battling drug menace
  • A process dating back to 1997
  • Louroi Festival @ Khurai #1 :: Gallery
  • South East Asian in performing art
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • BINER 2.0 @Manipur Tech Innovation hub
  • Frontier Nagaland- Marching toward Solution
  • Are our life predetermined by a higher power
  • The 108 Divya Desam Temples
  • Water crisis here to stay
  • Beyond arresting the 5 cops
  • 29th Imphal Book Fair Jan 15 2023 :: Gallery
  • 'Yumpham yaodaba / khudam leitaba wafamni'
  • Capacity Building program at Moreh
  • Health Technology : Can it solve health issues
  • A Sternly Life :: Poem
  • Sukrunye, festival of Chakhesang at Phek
  • Empowering through sex education #2
  • 'War on drugs' campaign winnable...
  • Second edition of the War on Drugs
  • My Memories of Imphal #6 : Download
  • Huidrom Nageshwar: Expedition to Antarctica
  • NNPG and NSCN joint statement
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • The Village Playground :: Poem
  • Diabetes treatment beyond medications
  • TN CM Stalin out to prove good politics...
  • Yaoshang Thabal competition #3 :: Gallery
  • 'Champions of Film Heritage Award'
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • BIG grant, Ideation to Proof of concept
  • Amit Shah poses teasers for Naga leaders
  • State delimitation & gerrymandering
  • Nail care in Winters
  • Half-hearted upgrade of DM University
  • Prohibition lifted, now what ?
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2 :: Gallery
  • Around the famous Loktak Lake!
  • Moirang & Port Blair in freedom struggle #1
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • NE India Launchpad 2.0 program
  • L Tonthoi: Best Female Actor @ GIFC
  • World Climate 2022, an overview
  • Drying up of Singda dam water fallout...
  • Shiv Sena: Hitting the right button
  • Nupilal Ningshing Lamjel #4 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Frontier Nagaland Movement- a better world
  • An introduction to Manipuri Vaishnavism #2
  • Buried Deep :: Poem
  • Empowering through sex education #1
  • Robert Memorial Badminton at Senapati
  • Firearms in the hands of reckless denizen
  • Lessons from the past
  • State Level Gaan Ngai #2 :: Gallery
  • Ima Savitri - Documentary film : Review
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Chahi Taret Khuntakpa' at Cachar
  • Emerging Manipur peace, prosperity @growth
  • State of the States 2022: Manipur on top
  • War on Drugs mission far from being over
  • Of Leikhom, Leinang & Uphul, Waiphul
  • New Year picnic @Singda #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival: Sangai Dance :: Gallery
  • 50th years of Manipuri Cinema celebration !
  • Nations wished to no more have war
  • Emerging career options
  • Spike in vehicle sale: Traffic chaos imminent
  • Cong making the right noises
  • Tupul Landslide site construction :: Gallery
  • Addressing skill aspirations among adolescent
  • Shumang Leela Kumhei #1 :: Gallery
  • State Level Gaan Ngai #1 :: Gallery
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1 :: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #6: Gallery
  • Manipur Journalist Awards #2 :: Gallery
  • Dr Savitadidi N Mehta Museum :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @ Pune :: Gallery
  • Linthoi Chanambam- Judo Player :: Gallery
  • Olympians & National awardees of Manipur
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar for 2023