From Ideals to Tools: Applying Human Rights to Maternal Health
PLoS Med, 10(11), e1001546 (2013)
4 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021
Date Written: November 5, 2013
Applying human rights frameworks and human rights-based approaches (HRBAs) to maternal health offers strategies and tools to address root causes of maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM) within and beyond health systems, as well as other violations of women's sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) across their lives, including poverty, gender inequality, and structural violence against women, rather than simply promoting short-term technical fixes. Lessons post-International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and Beijing, as well as the efforts of the last decade, show the importance of operationalizing HRBAs in order to convert aspirational ideals into actionable tools. Operationalization can and must take many forms, including social accountability efforts, as well as judicial enforcement; however, advancing SRHR requires changing decisions at multiple levels, not merely providing redress in the event of violations. The ultimate goal of adopting an HRBA is to offer strategies for addressing the underlying power relations that systematically put women—some more than others—at risk of SRHR violations, and MMM in particular, and enabling women to live lives of dignity.
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