Chapter News

Statement by Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica: Women’s rights and empowerment are key for sustainable development

The European Commission’s international cooperation and development policy will continue to play a leading role in ensuring women’s access to health and family planning services.

Gender equality is a global priority. The European Commission supports this actively, in particular through the Gender Action Plan and EU external action. World-wide, around 225 million women are in need of modern contraception. More than 300,000 women die each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, 99% of them in developing countries.

Ensuring women’s access to health and family planning services, including education and contraception, are indispensable to prevent vulnerability and disempowerment and ultimately, to achieve sustainable development. Gender equality in this area, as well as all others, is not just a priority, not just an essential step for eradicating poverty; it is a universal human right.

The EU is providing significant financial support for health and gender programmes around the world, to address the direct and underlying causes and consequences of women’s discrimination. Together with our partners worldwide we will continue to speak out on this issue, to empower women, to protect their rights and ultimately the health and safety of their families.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 is about ensuring healthy lives and promotes well-being for all at all ages. This includes the commitments to “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births” and “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes” by 2030.  The EU is party to several international conventions and agreements in this field. Some of the most important being the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (1994, Cairo), the Beijing Platform of Action (UN world women conference in 1995) and subsequently the Agenda on Sustainable Development 2030.

Compliments of the European Commission