Religion, Women’s Health and Rights: Points of Contention and Paths of Opportunities


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This paper from UNFPA and NORAD seeks to inform Member States, civil society organizations, including Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) and the UN, among others, about the context and the nature of debates and different perspectives related to some particularly sensitive issues around sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Its aim is the sustainability of efforts and the achievement of common ground among different actors to move forward gender equality and women’s human rights.

The document highlights (briefly) the solid basis of evidence that supports reproductive rights and the benefits that reproductive health can bring for all people. It sets these within the framework of international agreements and covenants. It then outlines areas of controversy, exploring the complex ways in which perceptions and practice link these controversies to cultural and religious beliefs. It highlights some of the specific approaches that are affirmed by leaders and scholars of several major religious traditions, and notes areas of internal debate and reflection. The final section highlights some noteworthy approaches and programs led by religious actors that demonstrate what can be achieved through partnership.

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