Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All
Nov 28, 2014

Putting People at the Heart of Development. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Era

Putting People at the Heart of Development. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Era

Brussels, 28 November 2014, Be-cause health seminar.

In 1994, 179 governments reached a remarkable consensus at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. With the adoption of the so-called ICPD Programme of Action, governments agreed for the first time upon a comprehensive definition of sexual and reproductive health for both individuals and couples. This agreement paved the way for the worldwide promotion of sexual and reproductive rights as human rights. Key issues from the ICPD Programme of Action - such as the improvement of child health, the reduction of maternal mortality and the fight against infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis - were embedded in the Millennium Development Goals and the commitment to universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is increasingly recognised as a precondition for sustainable development. The development of a multi-sectoral approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights requires (SRHR) involving not only the health sector, but also including education, agriculture, youth and sports, and justice. In addition, the broadening out to include partnerships between public and private stakeholders as well as civil society was deemed to increase the effectiveness of the interventions.

Many low and middle income countries incorporated a strong focus on the achievement of the MDGs, and more particularly on the sexual and reproductive health goals and targets, in their development strategies and health policies. Some countries adapted domestic legislation in order to create a legal framework enabling them to achieve these goals. The review of the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action highlighted the fact that in several areas significant progress has been made. However, 20 years later, many challenges remain. Maternal mortality is still unacceptably high. There is still a huge unmet need for family planning. Sexual and gender-based violence has become endemic. Adolescents and youth are still exposed to an increased risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, STIs and HIV. Social and cultural norms and values still hamper access to accurate and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information. Stigma and discrimination prevent key populations from accessing services. Further, in a growing number of countries non-heterosexual sexual behaviour can be a reason for criminal prosecution and even the death penalty.

At the brink of the ‘Post-2015 Era’ the relevance of the ICPD Programme of Action is increasingly evident. As health and development stakeholders, we are continuously challenged to develop strategies that enable us to overcome the shortcomings of the past and to close the gaps that prevent vulnerable populations from the full enjoyment of their right to sexual and reproductive health. This seminar will provide an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences, insights and ideas regarding these challenges, allowing us to elaborate on the linkages between SRHR and sustainable development and to advance SRHR in the years ahead.


Taking the 20th anniversary of the ICPD Programme of Action and the ICPD review as a starting point the 2014 Be-cause health seminar aims to build upon lessons learnt and to identify opportunities for the sustainable and effective integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Belgian development cooperation as well as exploring its future place in global health.

  • Be-cause health is, through Memisa, a close partner of the MMI Network.


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