Reproductive health and reproductive rights

Posted: 25 September 2007

The rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994 reflects a new global policy consensus on the relationships between population policy and sexual and reproductive health and rights. If women are empowered and people's needs for sexual and reproductive health are met, population stabilization will be achieved by virtue of choice and opportunity, not coercion and control.

The rights-based approach is built on existing international human rights agreements and recognizes sexual and reproductive health and rights as important ends in themselves. Coercion in all its forms is rejected.

  • Client-centred care is a major component of the rights-based approach, emphasizing free and informed consent and respect for clients' rights. Such care seeks to provide services that meet the individual client's needs; involve clients in programme design and evaluation; offer clean, well-equipped facilities with technically competent and well-supervised staff; and integrate or link service components.
Sexual and reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to:

  • decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and to have the information, education, and means to do so;
  • attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health; and make decisions about reproduction free of discrimination, coercion, and violence.