Revive Rights-Based Focus On Women's Health

“We need to revive the rights-based agenda and realign research priorities for women’s health,” journalist Priya Shetty writes in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “The activists who fought to put human rights at the center of women’s sexual and reproductive health, at the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, may have won the battle — but they are still fighting the war,” she continues and outlines the “radical set of resolutions” produced by the conference. However, she writes, “this rights-based approach to women’s health never quite came to fruition.”

“Nearly two decades after the Cairo commitment, it’s time to revive it and create a new strategy for research into sexual and reproductive health,” she states. “Putting human rights back into women’s health won’t be easy, however, because it has been replaced by another motivator: economics,” she writes, noting, “Improve women’s health, the rhetoric goes, and you boost economic productivity.” She continues, “Women’s health should be invested in for its own right. And this translates to a direction to research that an economic incentive won’t necessarily provide.” She concludes, “The conversations about changing direction have only just begun. But they will hopefully create a ripple effect to ensure that women’s rights, not economic incentives, are paramount” (5/23).