The Future We Want?

The United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development or “Rio+20: The Future We Want” (held at Rio de Janeiro between June 20 and 22) promised to provide world leaders a platform to discuss, among other issues, gender equality, women’s empowerment and the need to include women in all socio-political discussions.

But the document on the final outcomes at Rio+20 is disappointing: it only weakly addresses the need to improve women’s health in order to improve the quality of their lives. In fact, it conspicuously omits the need to classify these issues as “reproductive rights”, and therefore is a step backwards for women around the world.

The document has earned criticism from organizations and feminist leaders for its lack of comprehensive discussions on women’s reproductive issues. It has also been declared ambiguous by activists fighting against climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and other environmental issues.

It’s unfortunate that world leaders are still shy about taking a strong stand on issues that tether women to their traditional ways, and prevent their advancement. The summit’s reserve to address issues like family planning and maternal health in a more comprehensive way demonstrate that bodies of power are still governed by patriarchal ideas, and that women and their issues still seem secondary to discussions on development. By failing to address these issues as rights, the summit does not empower women, but leaves them at the mercy of their governments and heads of state.

A long ways to go before we get to the future we really want.

About Shweta Krishnan

Shweta Krishnan was the Communication and Networking Officer For the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership between June 2012 and March 2014. She is a feminist writer with a background in medicine, and has a strong commitment to promoting sexual and reproductive rights for all.
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