Belgium and 57 other countries call for the protection of SRHR and the promotion of a gender sensitive response to the Covid-19 pandemic
In a powerful joint statement, 58 countries, including Belgium expressed their concern about the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls’ human rights, the deepening of existing inequalities and the worsening discrimination of other marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities and people living in extreme poverty.
The right of women to safe abortion should be guaranteed by all countries. However, a recent study by the International Planned Parenthood Federation demonstrates that too many barriers continue to be put in place by lawmakers, civil servants and care providers in various European and Central-Asian countries.
The right to an abortion is a hot topic in Belgium, as the new figures on abortion collected by the abortion evaluation commission show. The parliament is also to discuss a new abortion bill which will be voted on soon. The legislative change would extend the period within which women are able to end their pregnancies from 12 to 18 weeks. This is the perfect moment to compare the situation with different countries in Europe.
Belgium put sexual and reproductive rights in the spotlight during the ‘European Sustainability Week’ in Berlin, June 2019. Sensoa participated in a panel with Moroccan documentary maker Mohammed Nabil and human rights activist Katrin Erlingsen of the NGO Deutsche Stiftung Weltvölkerung (DSW) at the Belgian Embassy in Berlin.
“Belgium is determined to build a world in which no one, not a single child, not a single young person, not a single woman nor a single girl is left behind.” These were the closing words with which Belgium reconfirmed its strong commitment to the full implementaton of the International Cairo Programme of Action (ICPD) at the 52nd CPD, 1-5 April 2019.
On Thursday the 28th of February in Brussels, the ‘The State of African Women’ report was presented on the eve of International Women’s Day at the federal parliament. Gina Wharton, policy advisory at IPPF European Network presented the research report by the Dutch KIT Royal Tropical Institute, a report that is part of an awareness project that goes by the title ‘Right by Her’. The research report maps the realisations as well as the gaps in the ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol by African states. This protocol is a legally binding instrument in which the rights of African women have been recognised by the member states of the African Union.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo has suspended the preparations of a new cooperation agreement with Tanzania. The human rights situation has been deteriorating, especially with regard to LGBTI, young mothers and pregnant teenagers.
The minister had been preparing a new cooperation agreement, a follow-up to the current one, but decided to suspend talks given the outright attacks on the LGBTI community, especially since the governor of Dar Es Salaam’s call to hunt down gay people.
The minister also expressed concerns over the rights of pregnant girls and young mothers. They are not allowed to go to school during their pregnancy and are forbidden to resume their education after they have given birth. The minister was quoted as saying “This way you take away girls’ future and make them enter a negative spiral with no escape. It condemns them to a life of dependency.”
The Worldbank and the European Union have also reconsidered their support to the country. The Worldbank rejected a 300 million dollar loan earlier this month and the European Union announced it will reconsider its collaboration with the country.
On 26 July 2018, UNAIDS published the latest statistics on the global HIV epidemic. In 2017, an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV. 21 million people have access to treatment, a record high. Consequently, the number of AIDS related deaths has dropped, to 940,000 in 2017. The biggest successes lay in Eastern and South-Eastern Africa, with a 42% decline in the number of AIDS related deaths since 2010. They reflect the successful scale-up of treatment in the region. Access to treatment also improved in most other regions, although (much) more modestly.