Berlin Clarion Call: Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, issued a ten point call for new investment and political commitment on behalf of women and girls worldwide. Fifteen years after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with non-governmental organizations from over 120 countries are meeting in Berlin from 2nd to 4th September, 2009, to take stock of what has been achieved so far and to seek answers to new challenges such as climate change and the current financial and economic crisis.

‘Berlin Clarion Call’ was presented by Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul to the representatives of governments from both North and South, and also to the representatives of the United Nations, the World Bank, regional development banks, religious communities, parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, business and trade unions. She said, “The call is for the realization of women’s human rights as being a key to making sustainable progress on population development and health care. Determined action must be taken to combat all forms of violence against women, particularly female genital mutilation and rape.”

The minister stressed that universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services need to be realized by 2015 at the latest. This also means making available modern methods of family planning and options for safe abortion. Linkages between strategies, programmes and services in the field of HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health must be promoted. Universal access to measures for the prevention of HIV and AIDS and to treatment and care for people living with HIV must be realized in line with the goals of the Universal Access Initiative.

The call supports equal access to using health services regardless of age, gender, origin and ethnicity, religious conviction, disability, economic and social status or sexual orientation. Partnerships have to be strengthened with civil society in the provision of health services, education and information, particularly to the poorest and most vulnerable and marginalized. The Global Consensus for Maternal and Newborn Health should be supported. Political and financial engagement in the field of infant and maternal health should be intensified to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Millennium Development Goals need to be further developed beyond 2015 and linked more with human rights.

Ishdeep Kohli-CNS