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 tops the list of European countries in cervical cancer prevention, the Cervical Cancer Prevention Policy Atlas shows. Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable. Yet every year, over 25,000 women die from the disease in Europe, making it the 2nd most common female cancer deaths in women aged 15 to 44.
The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection, which can be acquired by men and women. Governments consequently have a responsibility to prevent cervical cancer incidence and mortality by providing national HPV vaccinations, effective cervical cancer screenings and quality online information.
Belgium’s prevention policies
Belgium, but particularly Flanders stands out for its policy. Since 2011 girls have been receiving HPV vaccination at the age of twelve. Since September 2019 boys are also vaccinated free of charge. Screeings for HPV are organized and information about HPV and cervical cancer is easily accessible through government supported websites, such as allesoverseks.be by Sensoa.
Disastrous figures for Eastern European countries
Belgium shares its leading position with Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In Western Europe, France, Luxemburg and Spain are lagging at 74%. The situation in Eastern European countries is disastrous, with figures as low as 17% in ex-Yugoslavian republics.
The Cervical Cancer Prevention Policy Atlas is an initiative of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive rights and was first launched in January 2020.
The European Council elected Belgian prime minister Charles Michel as President of the European Council. The president presides over and drives forward the work of the European Council and is the European Union’s principal representative on the world stage. He is elected for the period from 1 December 2019 until 31 May 2022. But who is Charles Michel and what is his track record on SRHR and gender equality?
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.
Which parties believe Belgium should advocate the rights of LGBT+ people worldwide? Which parties believe Belgium should continue its leading role in ‘She Decides‘, the global initiative on SRHR and gender equality? Which parties believe sexual and reproductive rights should be a priority within development cooperation policies?
Sensoa analysed the attention for SRHR in the election programmes of the Belgian political parties in view of the 2019 Belgian federal and regional elections. This analysis showed that several political parties, from the right to the far left, think SRHR should remain a priority during the next government term.
“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.
To date, no fundamental change in governance has been seen, Perspective 2030, the Belgian coalition of NGOs monitoring the realisation of the 2030 Agenda of which Sensoa is a member, stated. The coalition published a critical report that took stock of Belgium’s efforts since signing on to the Agenda in 2015.
The 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place on March 11th-22nd at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Agreed Conclusions, focusing on the theme of social protection, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure were adopted after a week of long and late negotiations.
Do sex and pleasure belong in a classroom? Destemwijzer.be guides voters through their views on sex, gender and well-being
Which Belgian (Flemish) political parties want free childcare? Does your identity card have to mention your gender? And according to which political parties do 'enjoyment and pleasure' belong in sexuality education classes? In the run-up to the Belgian and European elections of 26 May, Sensoa, the Belgian member association of IPPF, çavaria, the Flemish LGBT+ umbrella organisation and the Flemish Women's Council developed a unique vote advice application.