Bodily autonomy: a cornerstone for achieving gender equality and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights

Number of pages: 7

Publication date: 01 Apr 2021

Author: UNFPA

Publisher: UNFPA

A “right” to “bodily autonomy” is rarely acknowledged as such in formal human rights instruments. But bodily autonomy is an implicit element in all human rights that recognize the capacity to make decisions about one’s body, personal life and future. Fundamental to women and girl’s bodily autonomy is equal protection of the law and recognition of their legal capacity on the same basis as men. Conversely, achieving gender equality requires protecting the autonomy of girls and women to make their own decisions. Human rights related to bodily autonomy and integrity in the context of sexuality and reproduction ensure that women and girls are empowered to make decisions about their reproductive and sexual lives. Accordingly, this requires governments to respect, protect and fulfil a range of sexual and reproductive rights enumerated in the ICPD Programme of Action. 

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