Statement

Human Rights Day 2018

10 December 2018

Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem

 

On this day, 70 years ago, United Nations Member States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. UNFPA’s work is inspired by this landmark document and its founding principles of universality and inalienability. Human rights are both specific goals and guiding principles for all we do.

Nearly 25 years ago, countries from all regions of the world, meeting in Cairo at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), committed to enabling people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health as a matter of fundamental human rights and as a foundation for thriving, just, sustainable societies. The ICPD Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments, reframed population and development issues, shifting the focus from human numbers to human lives, well-being, dignity and rights.

Yet, today the world still has a long way to go to realize the human rights-based vision of the ICPD. Human rights are violated every time a girl is married before reaching adulthood, every time a woman is denied access to quality maternal healthcare, every time a woman or a girl is subjected to violence of any kind, and every time an individual is unable to freely decide whether, when or how often to have children.

Today, sexual and reproductive health and rights are increasingly under threat around the world, jeopardizing the gains made over the past two and a half decades in advancing women’s health, rights and empowerment. In the face of this pushback, it is more important than ever to ensure that our work is solidly anchored in human rights.

As the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence draw to a close, UNFPA stands with the activists fighting against gender-based violence and for women’s human rights, who face increasing threats, restrictions and attacks.

Today and every day, let’s stand up for the human rights, safety and dignity of every woman and girl everywhere. Let’s hear their voices, champion their rights and choices, and keep moving forward together.