The tide is turning for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights

March 30, 2022

The female body has historically been a battleground for politics. Despite significant milestones in guaranteeing human rights for all, many women around the world have yet to enjoy the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies.

Moreover, women’s bodily autonomy is actually criminalized in many countries and only affirmed through legal and policy frameworks. Thus, the heavy hand of patriarchy continues to rob many lives through unsafe and unregulated abortion.

However, 2022 has started off with significant wins for the sexual and reproductive health rights movements in countries where progressive judicial institutions are finally honoring rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Simply put, these institutions are affirming equality and upholding a woman’s right to freely make decisions over her reproductive health.

Wins in Kenya and Columbia

Hivos celebrates the recent landmark rulings on two continents – in Kenya and Colombia – that give renewed impetus to the advancement of women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

These rulings are the result of bold action by organizations, activists and individuals who have disrupted narratives and ideologies that systematically exclude and repress women in society.

In Kenya, Hivos welcomes the high court ruling affirming abortion rights. A right and freedom that has been elusive and still is to many women in the country. We congratulate the Center for Reproductive Rights, who played a significant role in this victory and continues to defend women’s reproductive health rights alongside its partners, such as the Reproductive Health Network.

We also recognize and applaud the Center’s efforts to defend reproductive rights in Latin America, resulting in a legal victory in Colombia, as well as its continued litigation to block regressive legislation in the United States.

No resting on our laurels

But much more needs to be done, to ensure rightsholders reap the results of these judgments. We must also put significant effort into stemming the tide of regressive legislation on abortion sweeping through Latin America, especially Guatemala and Honduras, and the United States.

Let’s soldier on

Nonetheless, the decisions by the Kenyan and Colombian courts will definitely bolster the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement and help steer the trajectory of women’s rights slowly but surely towards justice.

If humanity is to realize its full potential in establishing just and fair societies, we can only achieve this by according women the right to be.

Hivos works with partners to disrupt narratives that continue to fuel women’s legal and de facto inequality. Through our We Lead program, we amplify the voices of young feminists in advancing their right to sexual and reproductive health. Not just on paper, but boldly through choice, courage and freedom.


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Honduras is the only country in Latin America that explicitly prohibits Emergency Contraception. It penalizes abortion completely on a constitutional level, and integral sexual education is missing from the school system. But this is only one of the many obstacles to sexual and reproductive freedom that women face in the country. Read the article by Ligia Destephen, We Lead Community of Action facilitator from Honduras, in which Ligia underlines the importance of women in leadership roles.