Status: 04/14/2021 2:36 PM

Millions of women are being denied the right to self-determination regarding their bodies, as criticized by the World Population Report. For example, they shouldn’t have control over their sexuality. This is especially true for poor countries.

The United Nations has denounced the lack of self-determination of millions of girls and women in relation to their bodies. The Executive Director of the Population Fund of the United Nations Population Fund, Natalia Kanem, confirmed that the data on this matter is “worrying”, during the presentation of the World Population Report 2021.

The study analyzes the situation in 57 poor countries primarily. It states that only 55 percent of girls and women can make decisions about health care, family planning and sexuality. “A woman’s ability to control her own body determines the extent of her control over other areas of her life,” she said.

Inequality between the sexes

The report’s authors contend that sustainable progress can only be achieved if structural social and economic inequality between the sexes is eliminated. This also includes everyone’s ability to make decisions about their own body. Men should become allies who respect women’s decisions.

The 57 countries from which the data is taken are in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and affect women between the ages of 15 and 49.

Mali, Niger and Senegal were the hardest hit

The numbers vary widely by region. While about 76 percent of adolescent girls and women in Latin America and in East and Southeast Asia make independent decisions in all three areas of health care, family planning and sexuality, less than half of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. In Mali, Niger, and Senegal, less than ten percent of women make their own decisions.

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Autonomy in sexual life is declining

At the same time, independence in one area of ​​decision-making does not automatically mean self-determination in other areas. According to the report, only 53 percent of women in Ethiopia can refuse sexual intercourse, but 94 percent decide whether to use contraception alone or with their partners. Improvements in freedom of choice can often be noticed in healthcare. Independence in sexual life, on the other hand, tends to decrease.

Gender equality is one of the 17 sustainability goals agreed by the international community in 2015. This includes the requirement that all women have access to sexual and reproductive health services and the right to family planning. The United Nations Population Fund is the United Nations organization for sexual and reproductive health.


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