NEW YORK, June 23 (C-Fam) — UN Women’s new draft strategic plan signals a change of focus for the agency from consensual policies to possibly promoting abortion among other controversial social policies. The agency’s leadership expressed no intention of backing down.
“We are seeking to translate what is agreed upon at the international level into laws and special measures at the national level,” said Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director during a preparatory meeting where the new strategic plan of UN Women was discussed ahead of the Executive Board of the super-agency next week.
The Executive Board of the agency is reviewing a draft strategic plan for the next three years. The draft plan has an outsized focus on reproductive health and for the first time also focused on reproductive rights. It indicates that UN Women may attempt to set itself up with a mandate to promote abortion and to lobby to change abortion laws.
The draft plan commits the agency to tackle “structural barriers” to equality like “discriminatory social norms and stereotypes that deny or restrict their social, economic, political and reproductive rights, as well as their sexual and reproductive health.” It touts sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as an “enabler” for women’s economic empowerment, and describes the ongoing work of the agency in this area.
Nordic countries that aggressively promote abortion were quick to praise the draft strategic plan, the third since the agency was founded in 2010.
“We are pleased that reproductive health and rights take a more prominent place, and we prefer the comprehensive term sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,” said a delegate from Finland specifically highlighting the inclusion of the term “reproductive rights.”
The terms were only defined by the General Assembly once in the 1990s. Although they never included a right to abortion, they include abortion as a component of health policy.
“We support the current draft, we are very happy with it,” indicated the delegate from Sweden. Norway also offered its support for the plan.
The previous two strategic plans mentioned sexual and reproductive health infrequently, whereas the new proposed plan features it more prominently than education, holistic health, and sanitation. The word “health” only appears in the text in reference to sexual and reproductive health in the strategic plan. There is no focus in the document on non-discriminatory provision of holistic healthcare for women on an equal basis with men.
Some delegates took issue with the strategic plan.
“We are concerned over the entity’s treatment of terms and how member states see them, and are pleased to see 80 percent of terms are in compliance with international consensus. We look forward to the new revision,” the Russian delegate said, adding that she expected more consultations on the strategic plan.
A Guyanese delegate lamented the “use of language that we have not agreed to, this is an ongoing issue. It is not a new issue and we would like it addressed. We know the potential of divergence and appreciate that this document should reflect the consensus of all member states.”
The highly controversial super-agency only deals with norm-making and social change. It does not carry out any programs in education, health, sanitation, or any other areas to deliver assistance to persons in vulnerable situations. It also carries out celebrity campaigns to publicize the cause of gender equality and lobbies governments and politicians to change their laws. Additionally, it trains organizations around the world to do the same.
Reprinted with permission from the Center for Family & Human Rights.