Throughout the week, there were challenges that bordered on the surreal. No room reservations, microphones that didn’t work, emails that got caught up in the system. Admittedly modest in scope, these bureaucratic problems threatened, at times, to derail a major United Nations Commission and its work, on the 20th anniversary of the program of action it was established to investigate.
Up until the final day—up until this writing in fact, early Saturday morning, many hours after the U.N. officially closes, after language translation has been suspended, after our beloved baristas at the Vienna Cafe have gone home—we weren’t sure what we were in for.
And then we found out.
We were in for “sexual and reproductive health and rights… [as] central to the realization of social justice.” Wow.
We waited for “the need to address persistent inequalities and discrimination on any grounds… especially for those groups that are particularly disadvantaged.” Yes.
We worked all week, through the night, for “comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including for adolescents and youth with respect for their privacy and confidentiality and free of discrimination.” Amen.
We got an outcome document that addresses indigenous peoples, early and forced marriage, human rights of migrants, gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and much, much more. The resolution reflects the realities of girls and women, boys and men, in all their variety and complexity. These issues aren’t always fun, they’re often not comfortable dinner talk, but they strike to the core of each of us and who we are as sexual beings, as reproductive beings, as human beings.
You may not think we were fighting for your rights to bodily autonomy and freedom of expression, but we were. You’re welcome.
Now to be fair, it is not a perfect text—that would be a Disney movie, not a U.N. document crafted to make diverse Member States both satisfied and not. It is, however, the bridge we wrote about earlier this week, that can serve to place this agenda—of sexuality, of human rights, of safe and legal abortion, of young people and more—at the heart of the new development paradigm.
In wonk talk, that’s the ICPD Program of Action at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.
Right where it belongs.