Empower Women - Sexual and Reproductive Control: the Vital Underpinning of Women’s Economic Empowerment

empowerwomen.org - Women’s control of their sexual health is a vital part of their ability to live an independent and economically empowered life.

My research on sexuality – interviewing women from a wide range of different backgrounds about their sexual imagination, experiences, and desires – has convinced me that it is crucial to women’s well-being to break the silence that surrounds it. Unfortunately, for women in the 21st century, sex and sexuality are often still taboo, and taboos are where pain, difficulty, shame and preconceptions converge. Yet this area of a woman’s life can bring her both the most intense pleasure and the most intense pain, and only through open and honest conversation can women learn how to safeguard and protect themselves.

The statistics are shocking. The number one cause of death among women aged between 15 and 44 around the world is HIV and AIDS, and four in every five women infected with HIV contracted it through heterosexual sex. These statistics tell us that there is a huge need for initiatives that make preventive methods easily available to women. This is undoubtedly why women’s sexual health is given such high priority by Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Target Six of SDG5 asks the international community to honor the commitments made in the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, by making sure that all women and girls have universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

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