Sexual and reproductive health

Recent meetings, conferences and events

December 2014

Launch of the WHO-led Special Supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health

The WHO-led Special Supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health, published online on the 18th December, was launched at a number of events around the world with high-level attendence. The high-level launch events included policy makers, implementers, researchers and funders, who met to reflect and discuss the findings of the Special Supplement, and to commit to meeting continued challenges to ensure the provision of adolescent sexual and reproductive health worldwide.

The Special Supplement is an analysis on progress made, by the global community, in the 20 years since the landmark International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD), for the improvement of adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) policies and programmes. The authors set out the implications for research and for action, and define five complementary and intersecting areas for intervention, to best promote and protect ASRH. The authors state that, “Ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents is an unfinished agenda of the ICPD Programme of Action, and all stakeholders need to strengthen their commitment and efforts for the world to move further towards its goals.”

The launch dates included Ghent, Belgium (4 December), New York, USA (10 December), Seattle, USA (11 December), Washington DC, USA (15 December), Geneva, Switzerland (15 December) and Oslo, Norway (January 2015).

November 2014

Every Woman Every Child Stakeholder Consultation

6 November 2014: This high-level, two-day event, jointly convened by Governments of Canada and Norway, brought together close to 100 high-level representatives from governments, civil society and international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, to reaffirm their commitment to accelerating progress for women’s and children’s health in the lead-up to 2015 and in the future post-2015, and to discuss how to ensure that accountability remains at the heart of this agenda. The meeting was the last of a number of high-level meetings convened by various key partners in 2014 as part of a larger strategic process aimed to bring together stakeholders in women’s and children’s health to keep the momentum going and to set the agenda for post-2015.

October 2014

Ending violence against women – IPU General Assembly General Debate

International Day of the Girl Child Seminar

11 October 2014: On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) hosted a seminar on the theme of Empowering girls: Breaking the cycle of violence. The seminar, opened by Marleen Temmerman (Director, RHR), included speakers from Canada and the Netherlands as well as from key agencies and organizations working on ending violence against women. Issues under discussion included child, early and forced marriage and the devastating effects on the lives of girls; as well as the unacceptably high levels of violence against girls. Dr Luc de Bernis, Senior Maternal Health Advisor at UNFPA went on to describe UNFPA's work in 140 countries to promote the health and status of adolescent girls and UNICEF's Human Rights and Gender Liason Officer, Nicolette Moodie, outlined UNICEF's approach to preventing and responding to violence against children. Marie-Claude Julsaint, from World YWCA, spoke from a personal perspective of why it is important to her that girls and women can live all stages of their life free of violence and described the work of the YWCA in investing and supporting adolescent girls.

Links to all of these agencies' work are provided below:

September 2014

WHO at United Nations General Assembly

Ending the cycle of violence against girls

Photo of participants to the seminar
Members of Parliament from the twelve participating countries

Dhaka, Bangladesh. 23-25 September 2014 . WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) contributed to a regional seminar for Asia-Pacific parliamentarians on 'Ending the cycle of violence against girls' organized by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Bangladesh Parliament. The seminar was attended by parliamentarians from twelve countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Samoa, Tonga and Viet Nam.

Over the three-day seminar, the parliamentarians agreed on concrete actions that they would take in their individual countries to prevent violence against girls including early and forced marriage. They agreed to this by formulating laws and supporting the implementation and monitoring of actions in conformity with the laws. In order to inform the discussion, RHR presented the findings of a study on the state of child marriage legislation in 37 countries of the Asian-Pacific region conducted in collaboration with the IPU. The study aims at identifying best practises and successful approaches to reduce child marriage, as well as gaps and contradictions within the different legislative tools adopted.

RHR will work through the Inter-Parliamentary Union to support the efforts of Parliamentarians, while working with Ministries of Health and other stakeholders to support research and action. RHR will also collaborate with the IPU to finalize the study on child marriage legislation in the Asian-Pacific countries.

Global Technical Partners Meeting for the Validation of the Elimination of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis

On 22-23 September WHO Departments of HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health and Research jointly held a meeting of approximately 50 technical partners working on EMTCT of HIV and syphilis. The objectives of the meeting were to review global minimum standards and processes for EMTCT validation, review operational tools to support regional and country processes, and outline next steps for collaboration with global technical partners, including resource mobilization and advocacy. Meeting participants reviewed and discussed draft tools for data quality and impact assessments, laboratory assessment, human rights/gender/and community engagement, costing, and governance. Following input received at the meeting, each of these tools will be revised so that they can be piloted in several validation exercises planned from October 2014 onwards. For more information please contact, or

Task-shifting workshop on maternal and newborn health in Europe

A group of policymakers from seven European countries met in Bled, Republic of Slovenia, for a two-day workshop on the WHO recommendations for task-shifting in maternal and newborn health. The workshop was co-facilitated by health systems researchers from the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services, as well as WHO staff from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (WHO Headquarters) and from the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Over the course of two days, policy-makers were guided through the WHO recommendations,

as well as considering their application to their settings. Participants also learned about the innovative “Evidence to Decision” frameworks developed by the DECIDE Collaboration for use by policymakers. The DECIDE Collaboration is a multinational, European Union-funded project on developing better strategies to disseminate recommendations and support evidence-based decision making in health policy.

UN Human Rights Council passes resolution on FGM

September 2014. At the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council, resolution A/HRC/27/L.12 on intensifying global efforts and sharing good practices to effectively eliminate female genital mutilation was adopted without a vote. The Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders, a compilation of good practices and major challenges in preventing and eliminating female genital mutilation, and to submit it to the twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council.

In a further resolution (A/HRC/27/L.19/Rev.1) on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a follow-up report on how the technical guidance had been applied by States and other relevant actors, to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-third session.

Also, during the session, a statement on the issue of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) was jointly delivered by 117 States. It declares an intention to bring a resolution on the issue during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which will take place in June 2015. The great number of countries that endorsed the statement signals increased support for the Human Rights Council resolution next year and likely also the UN General Assembly resolution this fall.

August 2014

Partners’ meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in N. gonorrhoeae and STI surveillance

Photo of the participants

From 25 to 27 August 2014, the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research convened a partners’ meeting in Geneva to advance the work on the public health challenges of controlling gonococcal antimicrobial resistance and strengthen STI surveillance to improve broader reproductive and maternal health outcomes. If not addressed, the increasing resistance of gonorrhoea will result in serious sexual and reproductive health consequences. Urgent action is needed, including strengthening surveillance efforts.