Not that we needed any more proof that she is a mighty advocate for women and girls, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a stand for women’s reproductive rights during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.
The announcement came after the conference decided to delete any reference to ‘reproductive rights’ of women in the final declaration to be adopted by 192 countries. It was a victory for the so-called ‘pro-life’ conservative groups and church-based civil society groups. The Vatican or Holy See led the opposition to the inclusion of reference to reproductive rights and won in the end. The Holy See is a non-state permanent member of the United Nations and has long argued that ‘reproductive rights’ is a euphemism for abortion and used it to block women’s access to critical health care services.
Clinton told the audience she applauds the final document’s endorsement of women’s sexual and reproductive health generally as an essential element in sustainable development. But she said ensuring women’s ability to control when and whether to have children is essential to maintaining that development and stability. Clinton said the United States would continue to work to ensure reproductive rights are respected in international agreements and policy decisions. Several other policymakers have taken similar stances during the UN conference, objecting to the omission of specific language on reproductive rights in the final document.
There is no greater insurance of peace and sustainable development than guaranteeing the women and girls of this world have the ability to control their destinies by controlling when they have children. Secretary of State Clinton’s actions should be applauded and the remaining countries should find the fortitude to stand up to Rome and for the rights of women across the globe.
Photo from IIP via flickr.