Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are under attack or restricted in many parts of the world, impeding progress toward achieving gender equality.

Laws, lack of funding, limited resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial barriers all stand in the way of women and girls’ ability to access the health care and resources they need to thrive. When a woman lacks sexual education, access to family planning, and the right to live free of violence, she misses out on the opportunity to receive an education, work, and enjoy her life.

The United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11 is an opportunity to listen to and pledge to help meet the health demands of girls worldwide.

Global Citizen spoke to US-based reproductive justice advocate Donya Nasser about the pressing need to support reproductive rights globally.

Nasser currently serves on the board of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization ​​committed to delivering sexual and reproductive health care services around the world, and to fighting for sexual and reproductive rights. She was also the 2015-2016 US Youth Observer to the United Nations, a 2019 US Gender Equality Youth Delegate to the G7 Summit, and a 2019 winner of the 120 Under 40 — recognized as a young family planning champion by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Global Citizen: What do you see right now as the biggest threat against SRHR?

Donya Nasser: If you're wealthy, then you're able to access these resources because you have the funding to be able to go anywhere to access them. When governments crack down and either reduce or eliminate funding, it impacts the most impoverished women and girls. We don't think long-term, but then how many women and girls are not able to access education and contribute to the economy?

Women and girls’ bodies became political. This has become an ideological issue. As countries become more partisan, as countries become more ideological on each side, women's bodies are used as a pawn in this war between two parties or three parties.

Everyone needs SRHR — it's fundamental to our being. But when it becomes a women-only issue, then it becomes a political issue.

Read the full article about reproductive health rights by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.