By Brenda Mutoni
September 30, 2021
Worldwide, women enjoy 25% fewer legal rights than men. Millions of women around the world are not able to make decisions about their own bodies.
According to research published in September 2021 by UNFPA titled “My body is my own. Claiming the right to autonomy and self-determination”, just over half of women and girls in middle- and low-income countries have the right to decide for themselves whether they have sex, use contraception or seek medical care. In some sub-Saharan countries, the figure is even below 10%.
16 May 2021
The issue of abortion has gained particular momentum in the past few months with two interesting developments in very different parts of the world- the passage of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) in India and the recent passage of the Argentinian abortion bill, that legalises abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy. While the MTP (Amendment) Bill 2020 extends the existing time period within which abortion can be conducted in India to 24 weeks in some cases, the Argentinian bill replaces the prior abortion law based on the 'exception model', where three exceptions were allowed to an otherwise blanket criminal prohibition- when a pregnancy endangers the life or health of a woman, girl, or pregnant person, or when it results from rape. After the Argentinian Senate narrowly rejected a bill to decriminalize abortion in 2018, the lower house of Congress finally passed the bill this January.
The pro-choice Biden administration is very unlikely to support the declaration, signed just two weeks before the 2020 US elections.
25 January 2021
The anti-abortion Geneva Consensus Declaration, signed two weeks before the 2020 presidential elections, brings together some of the most authoritarian and anti-women regimes in the world – reflecting who President Trump counted as his international allies by the end of his four-year reign.
The declaration claims that “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of states to finance or facilitate abortion”. It declares that the ‘traditional family’ – meaning a married, heterosexual couple and their biological children – is the “fundamental group unit of society”, and each country has “the sovereign right” to make their own laws on abortion.
Women Activists Escalate Demand for “Bodily Autonomy” as 19 Nations Dissent
By Thalif Deen
Jan 17, 2020
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - The United States and 18 other UN member states have come under fire for denying a woman’s legitimate right to “bodily autonomy”—the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressure.
The Executive Director of Women’s March Global, Uma Mishra-Newbery, told IPS the United Nations has worked towards progress in fighting for women’s rights.
[OPINION] Lives in danger: Extrajudicial killings and the denial of abortion
Permitting access to safe and legal abortion saves lives; extrajudicial killings take them away
July 29, 2019
While President Duterte left out the status of women’s reproductive health and rights in the country from his 4th State of the Nation Address, the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution and false claims against those who advanced it demonstrate that the government still has a long way to go in respecting, protecting, and promoting the reproductive rights and human rights of all Filipinos. (READ: Quick point-by-point summary of Duterte's SONA 2019)
For the past 3 years, a slate of extrajudicial killings has been committed as part of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. Thousands have gone missing or have been killed, prompting the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution condemning these acts. It urged the country to prevent more killings, conduct investigations, and ensure accountability.
Government officials who are sympathetic to the campaign have attempted to undermine those who passed the resolution, on the false pretext that such countries lack the moral legitimacy to condemn the Philippines because they permit legal abortion.
Mike Pompeo taps staunch abortion foe for fresh look at U.S. stance on human rights
Jul 9, 2019
WASHINGTON - Charging that human rights advocates have deviated from their core principles, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday named a staunch abortion opponent to lead a new panel to set the future direction for the United States.
Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who often speaks of his faith, announced the creation of a State Department commission on “unalienable rights” that has already drawn suspicions among gay and women’s activists.
A New Bill Seeks to Enshrine Women’s Reproductive Rights as Human Rights, Period
Dec 12, 2018
On Monday, five Democrat Congress members celebrated International Human Rights Day by introducing the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act to mandate that the US State Department recognize reproductive rights as global human rights.
The bill, introduced on the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comes after the Trump State Department last year removed findings about reproductive rights from its annual report on global human rights. In introducing this bill, Congress members Barbara Lee, Katherine Clark, Nita Lowey, Lois Frankel, and Eliot Engel aim to make it clear that reproductive rights are human rights and, as such, should be included in all state reports concerning human rights.
Not fully human
Great strides in some areas, but Malta's human rights record remains blotted
Monday, December 10, 2018
by Lara Dimitrijevic
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
I start with this quote, because it explains so succinctly what human rights are, or, at least, what they should be – that human rights apply to all, in every corner of the world.
Argentina: Senate’s rejection of bill to legalise abortion
Saturday, 11 August 2018
Press Release: UNHCHR
Argentina: UN rights experts regret Senate’s rejection of bill to legalise abortion
GENEVA (10 August 2018) – UN human rights experts* expressed deep regret that the Argentinian Senate rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, calling the decision a missed opportunity to advance women’s rights in the country.
“The Senate’s vote has failed women in Argentina and more widely, in a region which has generally very restrictive laws in terms of termination of pregnancy,” the experts said.
Women's rights face global pushback from conservativism, fundamentalism – UN experts warn
22 June 2018
Women’s rights are under threat from a “backlash” of conservatism and fundamentalism around the world, a United Nation panel warned on Friday.
“Alarming pushbacks have been progressing across regions of the globe”, through what the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice described as “alliance of conservative political ideologies and religious fundamentalisms,” in its report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Practices such as polygamy, child marriage, female genital mutilation, so-called honour killings, and criminalizing women for sexual and reproductive behavior, have no place in any society,” said a statement from the working group, adding that “there is no acceptable justification for waiting for the elimination of discrimination against women.”