Report claims right to autonomy and self-determination

April 26, 2021 - 11:58
Nearly half of women in 57 developing countries are denied the right to bodily autonomy, said a report released on Thursday.
Female workers listen to advice on reproductive health at the Suối Dầu Industrial Zone in Cam Lâm District, Khánh Hòa Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vân

HÀ NỘI — Nearly half of women in 57 developing countries are denied the right to bodily autonomy, said a report released on Thursday.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s 2021 flagship report – State of World Population – was launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the HCM Central Youth Union.

For the first time, a UN report focuses on the topic of bodily autonomy, without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.

The report shows that in countries where data is available, only 55 per cent of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and sexual relations.

Only 71 per cent of countries guarantee access to overall maternity care.

Only about 56 per cent of countries have laws and policies supporting comprehensive sexuality education.

Addressing the launch, Nguyễn Tường Lâm, Secretary of the Central Youth Union, said: “The theme of this year’s World Population Report “My body is my own” turns the spotlight on bodily autonomy. With the focus on comprehensive sexuality education and gender equality, the report calls for joint efforts in strengthening awareness among young people and rights to ensure that they are equipped with knowledge and skills to make their own decisions about their health.”

Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Việt Nam, said: “A woman who has control over her body is more likely to be empowered in other spheres of her life. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family, her community and her country.”

Bodily autonomy is measured through two sustainable development goals (SDGs) indicators, including 5.6.1 and 5.6.2. In the report, Việt Nam is cited, among 75 countries which have data, for the measurement of SDG indicator 5.6.2 – the existence of laws, regulations, or policies that guarantee full and equal access to women and men aged 15 years and older to sexual and reproductive healthcare, information and education.

Việt Nam has the indicator value of 54 per cent out of 100 per cent achievement, which is higher than Nepal (48 per cent) but lower than Cambodia (98 per cent) and Myanmar (75 per cent).

Việt Nam does not yet have a full data set for SDG indicator 5.6.1 about proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive healthcare, but plans to make it available in the coming years.

The Sate of World Population report is UNFPA’s annual flagship publication. Published yearly since 1978, it shines a light on emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. — VNS