47th Session of the Human Rights Council
Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review – Georgia
Action Canada for Population and Development
Thank you, President.
Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Association HERA XXI and the Sexual Rights Initiative.
We welcome Georgia’s acceptance of nine recommendations on the right to health, including maternal and newborn health, universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and the introduction of comprehensive sexuality education according to UNESCO standards.
Systematic barriers and a weak and fragmented primary healthcare system continue to hamper universal access to sexual and reproductive health services including for women with disabilities and youth. SRHR services are still not readily available in rural areas. Young girls have no avenues for sexuality education and they are often discriminated against when accessing SRH services.
Despite efforts made by the government, objectives of the Maternal and Newborn Health Action Plan related to youth-friendly services and provision of contraception in the basic package of universal healthcare program, have not been realized. In accepting the recommendations in this cycle, we expect the government to take immediate steps to address barriers to ensure universal access to SRH services.
We are also concerned by the inattention to the right to safe abortion during the review. The mandatory five-day waiting period contradicts WHO recommendations and violates women’s right to bodily autonomy. Banning of advertising abortion without defining advertising results in challenges in accessing rights-based scientific information and education. This violates the fundamental rights to seek, receive and impart health information, a critical determinant of the enjoyment of the right to health.
Further, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have left women and girls without access to essential medical services including abortion care. The dramatic reduction in these services is putting lives, health and wellbeing at risk, particularly those of marginalized groups. We call on the government to remove mandatory waiting times and the prohibition of abortion advertisements.
Finally, we call on the government to ensure development of policies and programs with the participation and leadership of the affected population, especially marginalized groups facing violations exacerbated by the pandemic. We expect meaningful mechanisms for impactful implementation.