Parliament calls on government to step-up the promotion of gender equality in Belgium's development cooperation
On March 15 the Belgian Chamber of People's Representatives adopted a resolution to promote gender equality and women's emancipation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The resolution, an initiative by MP Fatma Phelivan, calls on the Belgian government to step-up it's efforts.
“In too many contexts, she has actually never decided anything. Telling her that she decides WITHOUT giving her the foundation upon which to do so, could be naïve at best – and irresponsible at worst. We cannot raise expectations of autonomy and agency without providing a foundation for this to actually happen.” Lina Abirafeh, Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University in Lebanon and She Decides Champion’s message was clear. Abirafeh delivered the key note at the She Decides’ anniversary event in the Belgium parliament, which sought to answer the question ‘Can She Decide in times of crisis?’, focusing on women’s and girls’ access to SRHR during humanitarian crises.
How to ensure medicines of good quality and much needed reproductive health supplies? On November 8, the Belgian development cooperation and Be-cause health, the Belgian platform on international health, organised a seminar on access to quality medicines and supplies for sexual reproductive health and rights. Some key take aways.
The federal development aid for health and reproductive health increased from €141 million in 2015 to €146 million in 2016. The support is still well below the level of 2014 though. €164 million was spent on these sectors in 2014. The total expenditure of the Directorate-General for Development (DGD) increased with 11.8% in 2016. This means the federal government is investing relatively less in development aid for health and reproductive health because the proportion of aid dedicated to these sectors decreased from 14% in 2015 to 12.7% in 2016. Sensoa discussed these results in an analysis of the federal development aid for health and reproductive health.
Together with other members of the Be Cause Health Working Group on SRHR, Sensoa developed three information sheets and infographics on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with a particular focus on young people, gender and the linkages between HIV and SRHR.
These info sheets give an overview of the latest facts and figures and contain a number of guidelines for Belgian development stakeholders. The info sheets should contribute to a better knowledge and understanding among Belgian development stakeholders such as diplomats, Belgian Development Agency employees and representatives of NGOs as well as identify needs and good practices better. With this initiative, the Working group on SRHR aims to encourage Belgian development stakeholders to dedicate more attention to young people, gender and the links between HIV and SRHR in development programmes and policies.
UNAIDS’ latest report shows the world is moving forward in achieving the 90-90-90 agenda. The targets were launched in 2014 to accelerate progress so that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV have access to sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people with access to antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed.
Eighty-nine parliamentarians from 57 countries called on G7 governments to urgently address the challenges of migration, particularly as it affects women and girls. Their appeal came at an international parliamentarians' conference in Rome ahead of the G7 summit in Italy. Belgian Members of Parliament Petra De Sutter, Sabien Lahaye-Battheu and Daniel Seneseal were amongst the participants.
Body & Rights, the e-tutorial developed by Sensoa the expertise centre for sexual health and member association of IPPF in Belgium and commissioned by the Institute of Tropical Medicine and Be-cause Health, the Belgian platform for international health is now available in English.
The Commission on Foreign Affairs of Belgium’s federal parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution for the implementation and follow-up of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the 2030 Agenda.
The resolution identifies the challenges with regard to SRHR. To mention a few: 225 million women who want to prevent or avoid pregnancy lack access to contraception, one in three women is a victim of partner violence or sexual violence in her lifetime and every year 16 million teenagers give birth. The 2030 Agenda contains specific targets to tackle these problems, such as universal access to family planning and the elimination of violence against girls and women.
The members of parliament call upon the Belgian government to implement the Agenda and to encourage other countries to do so. They want systematic attention for SRHR in the negotiations of collaboration programmes with partner countries of the Belgian development cooperation. They also want Belgium to increase the support for SRHR within international organisations, such as the WHO, UNICEF and UNWOMEN, and to call on other countries in the UN Human Rights Council and other international forums to protect and promote SRHR.
The resolution was submitted by Hon. Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, president of the Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda. With Belgium presenting its Voluntary National Review to the UN in mid-July the timing is perfect.
At the conference of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) in Prague, Belgium stood out again as one of the most progressive and exemplary countries worldwide when it comes to promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights.