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.
On World Aids Day, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, the Belgian all-party parliamentary group committed to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, bore testimony as to why they wear the red ribbon. The red ribbon is the symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV.
MPs from all political colours expressed their support for the continued global HIV response. They conveyed personal messages to the public, explaining why HIV should be of concern to all of us.
The ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ also rallied their peers as well as Ministers, pinning ribbons to their chests at the start of parliament’s plenary debates.
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.
Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, decided to renew Belgium’s support to ‘She Decides’ with €2 million support for UNFPA Supplies in 2018 and in 2019 and with support for UNFPA-UNICEF’s Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, in 2018-2021 with €2 million/year.
Since ‘She Decides’ was launched, Belgium has also dedicated more attention and support to SRHR in its bilateral cooperation with partner countries. In the most recent multiannual agreements with Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal, SRHR is one of 3 priorities.
Belgium supports Guinea bilaterally with a total budget of €37.7 million, €5 million of which is dedicated to reinforce sexual and reproductive rights. In Burkina Faso, €4 million out of the €39 million budget will be dedicated to programmes advancing sexual and reproductive rights.
In Senegal, Belgium supports the country with €39 million, €9 million of which is destined for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health. Enabel, the Belgian development agency, is in the process of translating the agreements on SRHR into concrete programmes and projects to be run between 2018 and 2022.
With a High-Level Panel on the European Development Days, Belgium raised attention for the unmet needs of adolescents.
June 6, Brussels. "Unsafe abortion is more accessible then contraceptives”, Young EDD leader Archane Phonsina said, in her testimony of young women’s challenges in the DR Congo. Phonsina lost one of her best friends to an unsafe abortion and is one of the leading voices for adolescents’ access to family planning and safe abortion in her country. “Simply speaking about family planning is still stigmatised and many girls will have at least two unsafe abortions in their lifetime”, she explained.
2018 Educaid-Because Health Conference puts spotlight on sexual and gender-based violence and comprehensive sexuality education at school
How can comprehensive sexuality education and programmes addressing school-related gender-based violence contribute to better sexual and reproductive health and education outcomes? These questions were at the heart of the ‘Two birds, one stone’ Panel, at the Educaid-Because Health conference “Health and Education: Stronger Together” at the Egmont Palace, on May 17th, co-organised by Sensoa.
Despite progress in safe deliveries, 830 women die every day due to pregnancy and delivery related complications and millions of women live with long lasting health problems as a result of them. Fistulas are one of the most serious delivery complications. Fistulas can lead to still births, incontinence, stigma, shame and social exclusion and in some cases the mother’s death. Approximately 2 million women live with the complication. Reasons enough to put the problem in the spotlight.