6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights
Venue: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Theme: "Claiming Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Asian and Pacific Societies"
Objectives of the conference
To assess the progress of government and civil society institutions in respecting, protecting, and fulfilling sexual rights for all
To strengthen institutions responsible for just and comprehensive reproductive health services
To share knowledge and experience among the diverse societies of the Asia Pacific regions
To reaffirm our regional commitments to respect, protect, and fulfill reproductive and sexual health and right s in Asia Pacific
To push for concrete action for governments to respect, protect, and fulfill reproductive and sexual health and rights in Asia Pacific
Reproductive and Sexual Health is a universal concern around the globe. All people – young and old, masculine and feminine, rich and poor – are at risk of problems related tosexual and reproductive health, including communicable and non-
The International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 explicitly linked reproductive and sexual health to human rights, and stressed that states should pay particular attention to girls and women since they most often suffer from negative health consequences due to social inaction. However just six years later world leaders gathered to adopt the key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were unable to include an explicit statement on sexual and reproductive rights in their final communiqué due to objections raised by a number of member states. The Cairo promises remain on the UN agenda and have been strongly promoted by the UN family of agencies, but it is clear that international consensus remains difficult.
In 2011 many states are falling short of the commitments they made 17 years ago. Their promises did not include the one key element that might ensure reproductive and sexual health – that being respect for individual reproductive and sexual rights. Without respect for the dignity of individuals, social programs of intervention become hollow, guarantees of protection become empty, and hopes for improvements become illusive.
In November 2006 a meeting of world experts on human rights related to gender identity and sexual orientation launched a series of guidelines for governments to promote respect for individual sexual rights. In four days of meetings of the 6th Asia Pacific Conference of Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights in Yogyakarta the participants reviewed experience from across our huge region and came to the sobering conclusion that previous calls to action have fallen short of the needs of the peoples of the region. Asian and Pacific communities are all heterogeneous in the forms of political, religious and normative beliefs they espouse, but at times they disrespect the rights and needs of individuals and minorities in their midst, especially those with different sexualities.
While women are not a minority, they continue to suffer from the relics of patriarchy embedded in political and social institutions. Throughout the region they continue to die from preventable and treatable causes. Many cultural practices and beliefs about family life and interpersonal relationships continue to foster discrimination against women and fail to respect the rights of young people as they are growing up.
The first day of the Conference was devoted to and led by youth drawn from across the region. They set the pace by raising awareness of the frequently overlookedSRHR perspectives of school and university aged people. Their concerns deserve to be acknowledged in political and bureaucratic discussions of reproductive and sexual health. Youth are more often the targets of moralization rather than the partners and beneficiaries ofpolicies and programs of information and services. We fully endorse the Youth Declaration’s call for governments to implement comprehensive sexuality education and services for all youth.
Looking at the persistent issues of intolerance, inequity and discrimination the Conference spent two days discussing papers on contested reproductive and sexual rights, including such controversial issues as unsafe and safe abortion and the special needs of marginalized and socially-
In a final day of discussion and debate participants looked at how reproductive and sexual rights might best be claimed by all citizens, and what role civil society organizations might pursue to guarantee the health and rights of coming generations.
Whenever people preventdiscussion about different forms of sexuality as sensitive or even taboo, they reflect a form of intolerance that constitutes disrespect for their fellow citizens’ deepest emotions and commitments. Throughout the world lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed (LGBTQI)people struggle to be accepted for their skills and contributions to society rather than isolated or persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Participants were concerned to learn of physical and legal assaults made on the sexual rights of their fellow citizens. The attacks on their sexuality are hurtful, but of greater damage is the lack of protection offered by government organs when they are assaulted. The protection of their rights requires that their safety and security also be protected.
The theme of these meetings was “Claiming Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Asian and Pacific Societies”. For governments this means the enforcement and protection of rights approved and ratified through the many international conventions relevant to reproductive and sexual health.
We have concluded that the first step in citizens’ claims for rights is a claim for respect. This is the claim we are making today; of our governments, and of our families, friends and fellow citizens. We, who represent people from different walks of life, different forms of sexuality, and including a wide range of religious and political beliefs, claim respect for our own situations, and promise to respect our fellow citizens’ situations. But when we talk of respect we don’t want it to end with talk. It needs to be demonstrated in everyday actions by all citizens. We call on our societies to endorse this declaration by institutionalizing respect and tolerance in all policies, programs and services of reproductive and sexual health.
DOWNLOAD: 6th Yogyakarta Declarationfinal.pdf