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20. Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (1994)

(Adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development, A/CONF.171/13/Rev.1, September 1994)

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Chapter VII REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

A. Reproductive rights and reproductive health

Basis for action

7.3.  Bearing in mind the above definition, reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents.  These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.  It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents.  In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community.  The promotion of the responsible exercise of these rights for all people should be the fundamental basis for government- and community-supported policies and programmes in the area of reproductive health, including family planning.  As part of their commitment, full attention should be given to the promotion of mutually respectful and equitable gender relations and particularly to meeting the educational and service needs of adolescents to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality.  Reproductive health eludes many of the world's people because of such factors as:  inadequate levels of knowledge about human sexuality and inappropriate or poor-quality reproductive health information and services; the prevalence of high-risk sexual behaviour; discriminatory social practices; negative attitudes towards women and girls; and the limited power many women and girls have over their sexual and reproductive lives.  Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of their lack of information and access to relevant services in most countries.  Older women and men have distinct reproductive and sexual health issues which are often inadequately addressed.

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D. Human sexuality and gender relations

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Actions

7.37.  Support should be given to integral sexual education and services for young people, with the support and guidance of their parents and in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that stress responsibility of males for their own sexual health and fertility and that help them exercise those responsibilities. Educational efforts should begin within the family unit, in the community and in the schools at an appropriate age, but must also reach adults, in particular men, through non-formal education and a variety of community-based efforts.

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