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First Lady Jeannette Kagame speaks on the power of choice and body autonomy for women and girls

You would think that by now women would be free to make choices over their bodies and their futures; that we’d have reached a collective understanding that all human beings have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. Alas, we’re not there yet and First Lady Jeannette Kagame has reminded us again.

First Lady Jeannette Kagame painted a vivid picture of a world where women and girls face no gender obstacles, emphasizing the transformative power of giving women choices over their bodies and health.

In her address today, during a Women Deliver pre-conference session, she posed a crucial question about our world’s paths. She emphasized the disastrous consequence of the systematic control of women and girls, the governance of women’s and girls’ bodies and minds.

She reminded of the troubling ways women’s autonomy and health are compromised when denied the choices that affect them the most.

She said, “When women’s body autonomy is overstepped, when women’s health is compromised the choices that affect them the most are taken out of their hands. They are incentivized and often exploited.”

First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame, believes women and girls should be given a choice

Too many women and girls are still denied the right to make decisions about their own lives and are subject to sexual and gender-based violence, including harmful practices, with the tragic reality that one in three women worldwide has experienced violence in her lifetime.

In certain countries, women do not have a say over their own pregnancies, birth control, and even sexual reproductive health.

Highlighting the fundamental right of women to make decisions regarding their welfare, Jeannette Kagame argues, “Women are equally as capable and deserving as men, to decide on their own fate and make the choices impacting their welfare.” She underscores the immense potential of women’s choices to be “as instrumental as men’s judgments” in the attainment of sustainable development.

The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, has been hard at work for 50 years building knowledge, awareness, and capacity on the importance of bodily autonomy, reproductive health, and family planning, and promoting strategies and solutions for developing countries that are based on gender equality and human rights.

The first lady emphasizes that it is also in line with Rwanda’s vision. She said, “UNFPA, your transformative agenda aligns with Rwanda’s vision of empowerment.”

“This is the good fight that UNFPA has chosen to engage in. Reclaiming women’s equal rights
Women’s equal rights to health, well-being, and autonomy, to wellness, protecting and preserving women’s rights to safety and wellbeing over avoidable sufferings.”

The first lady emphasized that for women to be healthy they need strong health systems, an optimized health system that offers health tailored to the population itself. “A strong health system is one that can mobilize the population to protect their own health and their communities’ wellness too,” she said.

She acknowledges that there is a need to ​​deploy all political resources and give way to appropriate budget allocations, policies, laws, and synchronized efforts across all state branches.

She emphasized the need for a devoted collaboration between activists, advocates, organizations, and senior leadership.

Giving women full choice over their autonomy is all about encouraging sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls.

Harjit Sajjan the Minister of International Development and Pacific Economic Development of Canada

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