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Measuring SDG Target 5.6 - Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights

Today, April 1st, 2020, the UNFPA launches new data and research for measuring Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.6: Ensuring Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights (SRHR).

The SDG Framework and Goal 5.6 in particular provides a significant opportunity to address women’s reproductive rights. The target is measured by two indicators — Indicators 5.6.1 and 5.6.2. As outlined in the UNFPA report released today, the “indicators combine to provide a comprehensive picture of key dimensions of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, measuring women’s ability to make her own decisions on contraceptive use, reproductive health care and sexual relations, as well as the legal and regulatory environment.”

hera partners and associates Alice Behrendt, Marieke Devillé, and Justine Jensen, with contribution from Michelle Dramaix and under the supervision of Dia Timmermans and the UNFPA Human Rights Office, conducted research and a key systematic review for Indicator 5.6.1, which focuses on women’s ability to make autonomous choices. More specifically the indicator tracks whether a woman can refuse sexual intercourse to her husband or partner; whether using or not using contraception is primarily the woman’s decision or a joint decision with her husband or partner; and whether a woman can make her own decisions about reproductive health care.

The lens on women’s agency is an approach that is often omitted. According to the hera report, “in the past, monitoring has focused on access to services, thereby neglecting dimensions related to women’s ability to make choices about their sexual and reproductive health.” The UNFPA revised indicators for Goal 5.6, with surveys and data collected from 57 countries so far, represents the first time we can track women’s decision making on SRHR and the laws that enable women and men to access these services equally.

The UNFPA release indicates that if we wish to achieve our SDG target 5.6 by 2030 then we urgently need to step up our efforts to support women’s rights and empowerment for SRHR. According to the research only 55 percent of married or in-union women aged 15 to 49 make their own decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights. These results do have large regional disparities from less than 40 percent empowered in Middle Africa and Western Africa to nearly 80 percent in some countries in Europe, South-eastern Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The analysis also shows that while women seem to have the most autonomy in deciding to use contraception, with 91 percent empowered, only three in four women can decide on their own health care and even fewer women can say no to sex.

This UNFPA stewardship and publication of research and data for SDG Goal 5.6 supports an important evidence-based argument for the rights and choice for all and is also an important step in the application of the International Conference on Population and Development Nairobi Commitments and the Beijing +25 Generation Platform for Action.

Achievement of sexual and reproductive health relies on the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights, which are based on the human rights of all individuals. hera is committed to supporting human rights, the right to health and development for all, and the rights of all individuals to make decisions governing their bodies and to access services that support that right.

Please visit the UNFPA website here to read the report and help spread the message. Volume I of our report to the UNFPA is available there and volume 2 is available on request. You can also read more about the study in the Guardian online. Follow us on twitter if you wish to receive updates and please contact us if you wish to learn more about our work