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In Pursuit of Equity: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women

Submitted by on February 10, 2016 – 10:24 PM

fileSexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) include every individual’s right to decide for their sexual well-being and reproduction without any discrimination, violence, and compulsion. Moreover, SRHR ensure an individual’s ability to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in activities related to sexual & reproductive health; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so.


In addition to that, SRHR also includes the right of all individuals to respect their bodily and emotional integrity, choose their partner, decide to be sexually active or not, have consensual sexual relations, have consensual marriage, decide whether or not, and when, to have children, and pursue a satisfying, safe, and pleasurable sexual life. The common and central element of SRHR and Sustainable Development Goals is the empowerment of girls and women, in creating a world that is just, equitable, and inclusive.


Exploitation of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are often deeply fixed in societal values relating to women’s sexuality. The society I belong to is a male dominant society, where women are considered to be the subordinates of men. The patriarchal concepts about women’s roles within the family revolve around producing offsprings.  In addition to that, early marriages and repeated pregnancies until a son is born, can have  detrimental effect on women’s health with fatal consequences at times.


Women are also often blamed to be responsible for infertility. Keeping all these in mind, I found that the biggest challenge in my area is to seek health care for reproductive health issues. There are many reasons behind this issue which has become a big challenge for us to overcome.


Firstly, the cultural conservatism binds women to strict patriarchal rules. These rules hinder girls and women to share their health issues, especially with regards to their sexual and reproductive health.Secondly, lack of awareness about safe sex, use of contraceptives and complications of repeated pregnancies etc. Thirdly, the lack of responsibility of stake holders. As it has been mentioned earlier that women are considered as lesser beings,subsequently, their health issues are also neglected by head of families, head of  the community and other stake holders.


I think this untouched issue is the outcome of the gender gap among people. If this gender gap will be eliminated from our society, we will be able to breath in a better world.Therefore, it can be helpful to understand and take steps for sexual reproductive health and rights for women.Every individual needs to understand sexuality. A comprehensive sexuality education can reduce the chances of exploitation of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.


People in our communities thought that the sexual and reproductive systems are very sensitive and private matter. They must be kept behind curtains a nd the issues related to them must not be shared with any one. This cultural conservatism can hinder our efforts. To overcome cultural conservatism, we can teach the community about the complications of not discussing such issues.


Moreover, our youth is not interested in such issues, motivating youth to be the part of our campaign is another challenge for us. For this purpose, we can arrange some interesting programs such as theater plays, dramas, and speech competitions on the topics of Sexual and reproductive health and rights. For arrangements of seminars and theater plays, NGOs can be approached for generating funds.



About the Author: Sajida Bibi is a graduate of Aga Khan University, currently working as a Nursing Intern.She is also a talented badminton player and represented/won in many forums. She is a singer and a sketch artist too.Sajida is active in student politics focusing mainly on the issues related to gender based discrimination. She has a core interest in sexual and reproductive health rights . She also manages her blog “Towards a Gender Balanced Society” where she regularly highlights the issues of women and girls of her region and across the globe. She writes mostly about socio-cultural issues and health related constraints women are facing nowadays.

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2015.

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