(with examples from the Beijing + 10 year review)
“Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease of infirmity. Women’s health involves their emotional, social and physical well-being and is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology.” (para 89, p. 34, BPFA)
At the Beijing +5 review it was recorded that there have been some positive steps taken regarding women’s health. In Australia legislation has been introduced to outlaw Female Genital Mutilation, and funding has been provided for programs for rural women. Research has been undertaken in the area of domestic violence and post-natal depression. “Quality of life” indicators have been developed to better capture women’s subjective experiences of health and well being, and information networks relating to women’s health have been enhanced by the use of the Internet.
At the Beijing + 10 review it was noted that four countries, China (2002), India (2000), Pakistan (2000) and Indonesia(2004) have developed new population policies since the conference in Cairo while other countries have retained existing ones.
Policy progress has been made as many new reproductive health policies and programs reflect a broader human rights approach. There has been a notable shift from population control to a more comprehensive reproductive health goal although some policies and programs continue to emphasize population reduction and encourage small families (South Asia and Indonesia) or restrict couples to one or two children (China).
However, there are still major cultural and religious obstacles to the implementation of many of the Health recommendations, in particular in the area of reproductive health. Migrant women whose first language is not that of the dominant culture, refugee women, indigenous women, lesbians, women with disabilities, women in poverty and older women living outside of major cities are facing difficulties in access to health services and health education.
High rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, women’s lack of access to safe and legal abortion, and young people’s lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights remain as persisting health issues.
Government commitments have mitigated the high rates of HIV/AIDs transmission, the high cost of treatment and general stigmatisation, especially for women and young people.
Monitoring mechanisms are not in place to oversee the implementation of government commitments to BPFA and United Nations General Assembly Special Session addressing issues of women with HIV/AIDS.
The feminisation of poverty and the globalisation of economics have reduced women’s access to affordable, quality health care in the Asia Pacific Region including basic primary health care. Women continue to experience numerous, significant difficulties in relation to reproductive health care. These difficulties reflect a common framework of denial of women’s right to control their own reproduction. Health care provision also continues to lack gender sensitivity.