“The right to safe and legal abortion is under pressure around the world. We need to make sure the clock is not being turned back.” With these words MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld opened the webinar held on the international day for safe abortion. The webinar launched the new European Abortion policies Atlas. The Atlas compares European countries in women’s access to abortion. Belgium figures in the European top 10 but lags the UK, Scandinavia and neighbouring France and the Netherlands. The obligatory waiting period in Belgium could be shortened and Belgium could do better in tackling disinformation about abortion.
What happens when Antwerp youth and Palestinian teenagers (virtually) sit together? Curiosity, recognition and humbleness. That is what we were witness to. On September 22-23rd Sensoa co-organised an exchange with UNFPA Palestine for young people from 15 Palestinian schools in Jerusalem and a class of 3rd graders of Koninklijk Atheneum Antwerpen.
The youngsters talked about their lives during the lockdowns – “My life was put on hold” -, their expectations as to marriage and relationships – ‘love’ and ‘spending time together’ ranked highest - and their ideas about gender and situations of sexual transgressive behaviour.
UNAIDS’ recent report finds that worldwide goals for 2020 have not been reached, despite past years’ efforts. More people know their HIV-status, more people have access to medicines and more people have an undetectable viral load thanks to treatment. Yet, the efforts to prevent new infections have been less successful. The number of new infections among adults has hardly dropped in the past 4 years. Not a single region reached the goal to decrease new infections by 75% compared to 2016.
LGBTI-persons and particularly young people ran increased risks of verbal and physcial violence during the lockdowns, and many struggled with depressions and thoughts of suicide. Especially those who could not ‘out’ themselves at home endured very challenging times. Being disconnected from their peers pushed young LGBTI-persons even more into social isolation, says senator, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and chair of the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, Fourat Ben Chikha, at the Human rights conference held in Copenhagen during the World Pride late August. The impact of the measurements on the human rights of LGBTI-persons needs close monitoring, so he said, to allow the adoption of necessary (preventive) actions to guarantee their rights.
Over 100 parliamentarians from all over the world had gathered in Copenhagen to discuss the contemporary challenges for LGBTI-persons. Also, MP Goedele Liekens and Flemish MP and senator Orry Van de Wauwer, both members of the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ were present. Former member and current Vice-Prime Minister Petra De Sutter represented the Belgian government at the World Pride.
A high-level meeting (HLM) on AIDS under the theme - End Inequalities. End AIDS - was convened from 8 to 10 June 2021, in New York. The HLM made a comprehensive review of the progress on the commitments made in the 2016 Political Declaration towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and had to set out priorities for the coming years.
In 2021, the UK Government is moving to further reduce its aid budget from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5%. Analysis of estimated funding between 2019 and 2022 compared to 2015 to 2018, indicates that gender equality focused programming is severely affected, and women and girls will suffer disproportionately from reductions in funding to critical sectors. The Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) said these changes are the result of COVID-19’s impact on public finances.
The parliamentarians for the 2030 agenda and UNFPA Brussels co-hosted the Belgian launch of UNFPA’s 2021 State of the World Population report that carries the meaningful title ‘My Body is Own’/ ‘Mon Corps m’Appartient’. UNFPA presented its report that discusses what bodily autonomy is and how we can measure it. It poses the question how we can achieve bodily autonomy for everyone.
A new version of the e-tutorial on sexual and reproductive health and rights is available. The E-tutorial Body & Rights is aimed at anyone active in international cooperation. It is a platform that houses a wealth of information on sexual and reproductive health and rights
(SRHR). Both experienced and new people can learn a lot from it. From understanding what SRHR is actually about getting and keeping SRHR on the agenda. The platform provides a course entitled “Body & Rights, Themes” and “Body & Rights, Testimonials”.
The CPD follows up the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (Cairo PoA). The 2021 Theme was Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development. After years of non-agreement, having an agreed outcome was a must. Following constructive discussions in the informals and excellent facilitation by the Bureau, agreed conclusions were adopted.
Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer among women worldwide. Moreover, it is the most common cancer in women in approximately 42 low-income countries. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the most transmitted sexually transmitted infection (STI), is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Around 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Today, cervical cancer is one of the most easily preventable types of cancers. High-income countries should be able to eliminate cervical cancer in the 21st century. However, low- and middle-income countries hold the highest burden and the highest mortality rates of cervical cancer.