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Leading the realization of human rights to health and through health

May 24, 2017

Launch of the Report of the High-Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents

At a high-level side event, the Report of the High-Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents was officially handed over to WHO’s Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. The High-Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents was established in May 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to secure political support, both nationally and internationally, for the implementation of the human rights-related measures required by the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030).

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The High-Level Working Group emphasizes that the largest ever generation of adolescents is an unprecedented opportunity for sustainable development, provided their rights to health and through health are respected. Yet the Group warns that there is an erosion of – and in some cases backlash against – human rights worldwide, which threatens to undermine progress in improving the health and well-being of all people.

Worldwide, the need to realize rights to health and through health has never been more urgent. Discrimination, abuse and violence against women, children and adolescents—the most widespread of human rights violations—erode physical and mental health, stealing the personal destinies of millions, and robbing the world of precious and needed talent, potential and contribution. Meanwhile, unprecedented rates of unplanned urbanization, climate instability, environmental degradation and pollution are introducing new dangers, and intensifying known impediments, to the health of women, children and adolescents, while conflicts are forcing people out of their homes and livelihoods at record levels.

A transformative leadership agenda is vital if women, children and adolescents are to realize their health and well-being and to flourish and prosper. This report describes the key dimensions of this agenda. The Working Group urges the world’s leaders to found their efforts in pursuit of this agenda squarely on the human rights principles of equality, inclusiveness, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. Evidence shows that this formula can create the transformation necessary to secure more peaceful, fairer and more inclusive societies, for everyone.

The report highlights that against a backdrop of rising nationalism, marginalization – including of undocumented migrants, refugees, slum dwellers and indigenous peoples – proceeds hand in hand with violations of rights, with particularly dire consequences for women, children and adolescents and undermining stability for entire societies.


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