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What is intersectionality and what promise does it hold for advancing a rights-based sexual and reproductive health agenda?
  1. Anuj Kapilashrami
  1. Global Public Health Unity, Centre for Primary Care & Public Health, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anuj Kapilashrami, Global Public Health Unit, Centre for Primary Care & Public Health, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK; A.Kapilashrami{at}

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Significant progress has been achieved in the field of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in the last three decades as evident in global commitments and national legislative, policy and programme level reforms. However, such progress is truncated by decades of low prioritisation, weak political commitment and funding,1 political backlash, and systematic assault on the broader set of socioeconomic and civil-political rights necessary for SRH. Amid these challenges, adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is promising for its explicit recognition of the importance of SRH rights for development, and for offering an integrated framework of goals that address both entitlements (ie, positive right to services, medicines and information) and freedoms (from violence and discrimination) necessary for full realisation of the broad spectrum of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) (see box 1). Their ‘universal’ premise, however, calls for a more nuanced assessment of how systems and provisions can be made more responsive to the SRH needs of those who are left behind and remain excluded from mainstream policy and planning. Such assessment will benefit from an explicit adoption of the ‘lens’ of intersectionality in examining and tackling SRH challenges.

Box 1

Synergies between SRHR and SDGs

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Target 3.1

By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 births.

Target 3.7

By 2030, 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.

Target 3.8

Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Target 4.7

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.