The global reproductive rights movement that began in the 1960s transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of women, empowering them to govern their own bodies and shape their own futures.
The world still has a long way to go, despite the gains made since the establishment of the UNFPA over 50 years ago, the report highlighted.
"India has covered a lot of ground in advancing sexual and reproductive health since 1994. I am confident the country will continue to provide global leadership in making universal access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, and reproductive rights and choices a reality for all," Klaus Beck, the Regional Programme Adviser and Officer-in-charge, UNFPA India Country Office said while speaking at the report's release here.
The report's release was attended by various representatives from the government, civil society organisations, young people and other UN agencies.
It also witnessed the coming together of the participants of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, which lay emphasis on putting people first and upholding their sexual and reproductive rights and choices.
The event reflected on the achievements of ICPD over the past 25 years and deliberated on the unfinished agenda.
On the journey towards rights and choices, women and girls have faced social and economic barriers every step of the way, the agency highlighted.
The efforts of the reproductive rights movements have dramatically reduced the number of unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths, and have cleared the way for healthier, more productive lives for untold millions, the new UNFPA report highlighted.
The report traces advances in reproductive health on the anniversaries of two important milestones. It has been 50 years since the UNFPA began operations in 1969 as the first United Nations agency to address population growth and reproductive health needs.
It is also the 25th anniversary of the 1994 ICPD, where 179 governments called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, and safe pregnancy and childbirth services.
Much has been achieved since 1969, says the report. In India, the average number of births per woman was 5.2 in 1971, which currently stands at 2.3. Contraceptive use has increased from merely 9 per cent in 1969 to 54 per cent in 2019.
Yet, several challenges remain. In India, annually, 35,000 women continue to die during childbirth due to preventable causes.
There are still an estimated 47 million women who want to prevent a pregnancy but are not using a modern method of contraception, highlighting the need to improve access to family planning and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.
"Despite the increasing availability of contraceptives over the years, hundreds of millions of women today still have no access to them, and to the reproductive choices that come with them," UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said.
"Without access, they lack the power to make decisions about their own bodies, including whether or when to become pregnant," she added.
"The world will have a historic opportunity to complete the unfinished business of the ICPD at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to be held in Kenya in November, where governments, activists, and stakeholders will rally to protect the gains made so far, and fulfill the promise of the ICPD agenda, so that no one is left behind," the Executive Director highlighted.
The report also features 15 champions of change who have broken barriers in their own context and influenced the landscape of sexual and reproductive health and rights into what it is today.
"I salute these champions," Kanem stated. "We all have a role in pushing back against forces that would see us return to a time when women had little say in reproductive decisions or, for that matter, in any area of their lives. The fight for rights and choices must continue until they are a reality for all," she added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)