I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and in addition the Netherlands. The Nordic countries and the Netherlands thank the Secretariat for the report on early marriages, adolescent and young pregnancies. We assign a high priority to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and to young people’s right to information and relevant services.
The WHO report clearly demonstrates that prevention of early pregnancies and unsafe abortions are areas in need of more research specifically on effective interventions. Alongside we need to apply existing evidence in future programmes. We commend WHO for clearly demonstrating the burden of disease including the high mortality rate related to poor sexual and reproductive health.
WHO has a key role in documenting health problems related to early marriages, adolescent and young pregnancies, and furthermore in establishing guidelines and recommendations in terms of sexual and reproductive health services including sexuality education for young people. We commend the publication of the WHO Guidelines on preventing early pregnancy and poor reproductive outcomes among adolescents in developing countries
We would like to emphasize the critical involvement of youth in the process of development, implementation and monitoring of programmes aimed at their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The role of men and boys in promoting sexual health and rights, including preventing early marriages and pregnancies, is crucial.
The promotion and protection of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and their right to information and relevant services must be followed up in a measurable way in WHOs activities, programmes and budgets including other sectors (such as education).
Gender equality is contingent on the realisation of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. This includes respect for women’s freedom of choice and self-determination. The protection of sexual health is firmly anchored in fundamental human rights. Lack of adequate health care in connection with pregnancy, childbirth and abortion is still the main cause of death among women of reproductive age in many developing countries. Maternal health is still the MDG with the least progress. The level of maternal mortality remains a strong indicator of the social status of women in 2012. The practices of female genital mutilation and cutting, has unacceptable consequences for their physical and psychological health and well-being.
We give high priority to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and to young people’s right to information and relevant services. Furthermore, we emphasise that sexual health and rights must extend to all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We are deeply concerned about the latest developments regarding the increased resistance to acknowledge the rights of young people in relation to their own sexuality and reproductive health.
In closing, we would like to take this opportunity to commend WHO’s work on reproductive health and research. We wish to underline the importance of continuing to prioritize this work in the future, and ensuring that adequate financial resources are allocated to this area.