New DGD Executive Director Heidy Rombouts, who opened the conference, made it clear that such a reversal of women’s rights is like a “recession being joined by a she-cession” and emphasised the importance of women’s autonomy, pleasure and their right to live free from any kind of violence. Rombouts, Belgian Prime Minister De Croo and Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir all reiterated Belgium’s strong support for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. Minister Kitir expressed particular concern with the lack of attention for SRHR in humanitarian crises, pointing at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the armed conflicts in Ukraine, DRC and Tigray on the SRHR of women and girls. Rombouts clearly stated that “'Belgium is strongly committed to political, financial, programmatic and advocacy support for SRHR”.
The conference gathered UN agencies, heads of state, implementing agencies and civil society activists and focused particularly on the themes of abortion, comprehensive sexuality education and ways forward in holding governments accountable for their international SRHR commitments at the 2019 Nairobi Summit and the 2021 Generation Equality Forum. Sensoa International took part in the exchanges.