Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are essential for sustainable development because of their links to gender equality and women’s wellbeing, their impact on maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health, and their roles in shaping future economic development and environmental sustainability. Yet progress towards fulfilling SRHR for all has been stymied because of weak political commitment, inadequate resources, persistent discrimination against women and girls, and an unwillingness to address issues related to sexuality openly and comprehensively. As a result, almost all of the 4·3 billion people of reproductive age worldwide will have inadequate sexual and reproductive health services over the course of their lives.
To address this unfinished agenda, this 2018 Guttmacher–Lancet Commission proposes a new, comprehensive definition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, an associated essential package of health services, and outlines actions needed beyond the health sector to change social norms, laws, and policies to uphold human rights. Not only are the necessary investments modest and affordable for most low-income and middle-income countries, the benefits of investing in sexual and reproductive health services pay dividends over many years, making it easier to achieve other development goals.