The Asia-Pacific launch of "My Body is My Own", the 2021 State of World Population flagship report of the United Nations Population Fund and the first-ever UN report focusing on bodily autonomy, was marked via an online event in Bangkok.

Noted advocates and activists from across Asia-Pacific through the auspices of the Embassy of France, Embassy of Mexico and UN Women as well as key partners of the Generation Equality Forum attended the event yesterday.

The launch featured powerful speakers, including Founder and Director of IDEA Nepal Rachana Sunar, a noted activist fighting to end harmful practices against women and girls in Karnali Province. In the event, she explained how women's power to control their own bodies is linked to how much control they have in other spheres of life.

Through its groundbreaking report, UNFPA is measuring both women's power to make their own decisions about their bodies and the extent to which laws in countries support or interfere with a woman's right to make these decisions, read a press statement issued by the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office.

In the eight Asia-Pacific countries where data are available, only 59.2 per cent of women are fully empowered to make choices over health care, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex, the statement further said.

"Bodily autonomy and integrity - the power to make our own choices about our own bodies - are grounded in gender equality and human rights, and are necessary for women's empowerment and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," noted Bjorn Andersson, UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Director.

"Denying millions of people, including women and girls, their empowerment, compromises not only individual health and wellbeing but hinders the development of entire societies and countries."

"We will continue to advocate strongly on these issues by deploying a rights-based approach because this topic is not just about health", French Ambassador to Thailand Thierry Mathou highlighted. "There can be no equality between individuals without the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination, and in this regard I would like to commend the valuable report of UNFPA in promoting understanding and progress on these rights."

Real solutions to ensuring bodily autonomy, as the State of World Population report finds, must take into account the needs and experiences of those affected.