We are pleased to share with you the release of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Accelerating the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the outcome document from the recent Ninth African Conference on Women (Beijing+20) that took place from November 17-19. The Declaration is remarkable for its strong language around reproductive rights and abortion. It provides a positive foundation for the Beijing+20 discussions at the 2015 meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as for the upcoming negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals. Key paragraphs appear below:
3. Women’s reproductive health and HIV/AIDs
(b) Invest in sexual and reproductive health rights, including by adopting and implementing laws on sexual and reproductive health, awareness raising and information services for teenagers and women, including comprehensive sexual health education, information and services;
(d) Expand the provision of family planning services and contraceptives and access to safe and legal abortion services in accordance with national laws and policies, and protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in the case of sexual assault, rape, incest, in line with the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
Ipas congratulates our allies and champions from throughout the region on the hard-fought victory represented by this language, a step forward from the Addis Ababa Declaration on ICPD Beyond 2014. We would like to recognize especially the tireless efforts of Commissioner Maiga of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; colleagues from Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Nigeria; and allies from leading regional women’s networks, the World YWCA, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition .
A powerful statement from African CSOs was also drafted and disseminated at the Addis meeting. It is no surprise that this statement contains even stronger language, calling on nations not only to commit to ensuring reproductive health for all women and girls, but explicitly calling on nations to ensure health care for marginalized populations; to remove restrictive abortion laws; and to address discrimination and inequality based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ipas and our other NGO partners at the meeting relied on the document in their advocacy with governments, encouraging them to adopt similar actions.
As we continue through the Beijing+20 process, we hope that you will use these materials in your own advocacy. We especially hope the Addis Ababa Declaration will be conveyed to the African delegates to the CSW so that they don’t undo the work of their government leaders in Addis. We must also continue to press for stronger language in intergovernmental agreements calling for repeal of restrictive and punitive abortion laws as a critical step in the realization of women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
Kirsten Sherk, MPH
Senior Advisor, Media Strategies
Ipas – Health. Access. Rights