Anti-gender movements have been on the rise in Europe and beyond, outright questioning gender equality, opposing sexual and reproductive rights of women, sexual minorities and young people’s access to information and education about their sexuality. The current Covid-19 response has provided these professionally organised groups with new opportunities to reinforce their agendas.
All over the world, we see sudden and drastic restrictions on democratic freedoms. Our movements are monitored increasingly. Public meetings are prohibited; the state of emergency is announced; legislative debates are postponed and, in certain countries, the operation of parliaments is suspended or their oversight role is severely curtailed in favour of the executive branch. All over the world, governments are ramping up digital surveillance. In Europe for example, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán granted himself dictatorial powers to ignore laws indefinitely and to suspend elections and referendums. In Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an emergency decree preventing the parliament from meeting, in what newspaper Haaretz called a 'corona-coup'. Experts are already pointing to the increasing pressure on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls everywhere in the world.
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.
UNFPA launched the State of the World Population 2019 in Brussels, May 7th, entitled ‘Unfinished Business. The pursuit of rights and choices for all’. Marking the 25th anniversary of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) as well as the 50th birthday of UNFPA itself, the report highlights the progress made, and the challenges ahead.
Belgium’s Directorate General for Development (DGD) Deputy Director Guy Rayée opened the launch, reminding everyone about the milestone the Cairo Programme of Action was. Tremendous progress has been made since, particular for women and their access to family planning.
“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.
The power to choose. That is the central theme of the 2018 State of the World Population (SWOP), the annual report of the UN fund on population, UNFPA, which was presented in the Belgian parliament on Nov 8th.
Individuals and couples need to be able to choose if, when and how many children they want. It sounds simple but it’s not. Reproductive rights are violated when health services are not able to provide essential care and means, such as contraceptives, or when women and young people have no access to information about relationships and sexuality. In these cases it is hard to prevent unplanned pregnancies.
Roel Deseyn, federal MP and chair of the Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda travelled to Tanzania in late June as part of a delegation of European politicians. He spoke to Tanzanian MPs, policy makers, NGO staff and youth activists about the many challenges relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
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.
On 17 May 2018, the Belgian platforms Be-cause health and Educaid.be jointly organise an international conference on the intersection between health and education in international cooperation at the Egmont Palace, Brussels.
Ten years following the first edition, UNESCO published an updated version of its International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. UNESCO developed the guidance in collaboration with UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNWOMEN and the WHO. Sensoa interviewed Karin Nilsson (RFSU, Sweden) who was part of this process.