Culturally sensitive approaches are a means by which UNFPA and its development partners can more effectively make basic human rights -- especially those dealing with reproductive health and women's empowerment -- a reality in the countries we serve.
The modern human rights system is based on a series of legally binding international treaties (see below) that make use of principles of ethics and social justice, many of which are directly relevant to reproductive health care. By emphasizing fundamental values, a rights-based approach can shape humane and effective reproductive health programmes and policies.
The following chart describes some of the fundamental rights that UNFPA helps to promote, and some of the interventions that we undertake to make those rights a reality. The publication, Culture Matters, describes in more detail how these rights were operationalized through case studies documenting projects in nine countries.
A training manual has been created by UNFPA to explain how to promote human rights, especially gender equality, in a culturally sensitive manner.
|Human Rights||Establishing Agreement||Rights-Based Actions|
|Right to life and survival||UDHR, article 3
ICCPR, article 6
CRC, article 6
Prevent avoidable maternal deaths
End pre-natal sex selection and female infanticide
Screen for cancers that can be detected early and treated.
Ensure access to dual-protection contraceptive methods
|Right to liberty and security of the person||UDHR, article 25
ICESCR, article 12
CEDAW. Articles 11, 12 and 14
Eliminate female genital cutting
Encourage clients to make independent reproductive health decisions
|Right to marry and establish a family||CEDAW. Articles 11, 12 and 14||Prevent early or coerced marriages|
|Right to decide the number and spacing of one's children||UDHR, article 12
ICCPR, article 17
ICESCR, article 10
CEDAW, article 16
CRC, article 16
Provide access to a range of modern contraceptive methods
Help people choose and use a family planning method
|Right to the highest attainable standard of health||ICESCR, article 12
CEDAW, articles 12 and 14
CRC, article 24
Provide access to affordable, acceptable, and comprehensive reproductive health services
|Rights to the benefits of scientific progress||UDHR, article 27
ICESCR, article 15
Fund research on women's as well as men's health needs
Provide access to obstetric care that can prevent maternal deaths
|Right to receive and impart information||UDHR, article 19
ICCPR, article 19
CEDAW, articles 10, 14, 16
CRC, articles 12, 13 and 17
Make family planning information freely availableOffer sufficient information for people to make informed reproductive health decisions.
Source: Adapted from Culture Matters, page 4
The major treaties referenced in the table include:
For information on UNFPA's work to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples, see www.unfpa.org/sustainable/rights.htm