Isabella Lövins tal vid seminariet "Resources for women and girls: realising the vision of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all through agenda 2030"

All-Party Parliamentary Group on SRHR seminar on Resources for women and girls: realising the vision of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all through the 2030 Agenda, Stockholm, 7 April 2016. Talet hölls på engelska.

Det talade ordet gäller!

Dear all,

I'm happy to be here and to be able to conclude this important seminar. Thanks to the Parliamentary Group and RFSU for inviting me. This week, Stockholm and the Swedish government hosted the high-level International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and State building. This dialogue is an important process to put the spotlight on the fragile states, which we know are the ones that did not fulfill the Millennium Development Goals. To fully realise the 2030 Agenda these countries are key.

Sweden sees the importance of these issues, which is why we will lead the work on target 16 in the new agenda. This target and the international dialogue both have special importance for the work to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is in the context of conflicts that maternal deaths increase. It is in the context of fragile states that the human rights for women and girls are grossly neglected. It is in the context of a state rebuilding its' peace that sexual abuse and trauma have to be addressed on a systemic level.


So, in a world with more conflicts, the challenges of sexual and reproductive health and rights are more important to address than they have ever been.

Every year, the denial of women and girls´ basic right to decide over their own bodies leads to 80 million unplanned pregnancies, 30 million unplanned births and 20 million unsafe abortions around the world. It prevents more than 220 million women and girls from having access to effective and affordable contraception. Every year, more than 300 000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The figures are shocking.

The absolute fundamental right to control one´s own body is still controversial in many parts of the world, mainly due to discriminatory laws, norms and practices. Laws and structures keep many women, girls, adolescents and LGBT persons from enjoying their human rights, reaching their potential and contributing to their societies.

Sweden is deeply concerned about the increased resistance against gender equality and SRHR.


Luckily, this is not only a time of challenges but also a time of opportunities. We have a new architecture for development, through the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda, with its two goals that explicitly relate to SRHR, offers a real opportunity for change. Its implementation is a top priority for Sweden. We welcome collaboration and ideas on how to progress and succeed on the goals and targets set out to advance the SRHR situation.


Next month, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit will take place in Istanbul. The summit must lead to political commitments that are translated to concrete changes for women and girls on the ground.

As you know, about three in five of all maternal deaths worldwide occur in humanitarian or fragile contexts, which include wars and natural disasters. Every day, more than 500 women in these settings die during pregnancy and childbirth.

For too long, the humanitarian response has not taken adequate measures to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls. At the World Humanitarian Summit, one of the Swedish priorities will therefore be the inclusion and the empowerment of women and girls in the humanitarian response.

A concrete tool for change is the initiative Call to Action on protection from gender-based violence in emergencies. Since the beginning of this year, Sweden is leading the Call to Action in emergencies and the implementation of its Road map. I would like to express my appreciation to UNFPA for its engagement as co-chair in the Call.


This seminar addresses a core question – who will fund SRHR in the 2030 Agenda – and how?

Nearly 85 per cent of Swedish bilateral aid directly or indirectly affects gender equality, since the gender perspective is mainstreamed into our strategies. Swedish support to SRHR makes up around 60 per cent of the Swedish development assistance for health and around 7 per cent of our total development cooperation. It is also of course a vital part of our development assistance to human rights and democracy.

Sweden is the largest donor to UN Women and the second largest donor to UNFPA and UNAIDS. The government´s increase of core-support to UNFPA and UN Women in 2016 was a deliberate political choice. I have instructed The Swedish international Development Cooperation Agency to especially prioritise SRHR in country strategies and programmes in 2016, in a time when we have been forced to cut back on our aid budget. Our serious commitment to SRHR cannot be questioned.

While the ODA that goes to SRHR continues to increase, the global needs for SRHR by far exceed the resources available. In order to increase access and funding to SRHR, we need an efficient multilateral system with a robust global financial architecture.

A robust financial system must be based on core support. Core support allows UN Funds and programmes to remain strategic. It should be complemented with flexible ear marked support and innovative funding in order to give the organisations maximum room for manoeuvre. This is a Swedish commitment.

We also need strong health systems. Systems for health must be strengthened in a broad sense; health must be part of global and national development priorities, plans and budgets.

In the multilateral system, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and UNAIDS have unique normative mandates. They are key partners for political dialogue about issues related to gender equality and SRHR of women, children and adolescents.

We all want the World Bank and the Ministries of Finance to consider these issues to a greater extent! But when establishing new funds, such as the GFF and the GFF Trust Fund, we must make sure that it does not lead to underfinancing of UN organizations. This can lead to undermining their capacities, technical expertise and important normative roles. The Swedish Government engages in the discussions with the World Bank and we voice these concerns.

Yet, above all, the most important issue with regard to financing is ultimately – political will. We need a strong political will from donors and governments, to further these rights and to build the systems.


Dear friends, in conclusion. The Swedish Government is and will continue to be a strong advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and LGBT rights, as integral parts of human rights. We will continue to prioritize these issues even if the times are difficult.

We should invest in gender equality not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because when women and girls can educate themselves and find a job they like, they bring economic development. If every country would match the most gender equal country in its region, in terms of women's access to the labour market, the global GDP would increase by 11 percent! Gender equality can truly be a key to ending poverty!

We remain committed to the realization of the 2030 Agenda, where we luckily see a broad support in the Swedish parliament. We continuously work together with other governments to address the challenges of SRHR globally, and to increase the funding to tackle these challenges.

We do this because these rights are absolute – every woman and girl should be able make the decisions about her own body. Every LGBT person should be treated with respect and dignity, in the eyes of the law and in their life. Every adolescent should get access to sexuality education and youth friendly services. And every woman should rest assure that the birth of her child will happen in a safe place.

To make this a reality, a lot of work is needed. So let's get to work.

Thank you.



Annika Flensburg
Pressekreterare hos biståndsminister Isabella Lövin
Telefon (växel) 08-405 10 00