UN Member States failed to reach a consensus on a resolution on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration, the main theme of the 51st Commission on Population and Development, April 9th-13th. It is the third time in the past four years that the CPD remains without agreed conclusions.
“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.
During the diplomatic days, vice prime minister and minister of development cooperation Alexander De Croo addressed the Belgian diplomatic staff on sustainable development. The Minister pointed out the progress made over the past ten years with regard to human rights in half of the partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation. With the Ibrahim Index on African Governance in his hand, he underlined that human and economic development go hand in hand with progress regarding human rights, gender equality and non-discrimination of minorities and sexual minorities.
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.
Our world is increasingly unequal, with sharp differences in terms of wealth, power, rights and opportunities. That is the focus of this year’s UNFPA report The State of World Population 2017 – WORLDS APART: reproductive health and rights in an age of inequality. On 25 October, Nadine Krysostan from the UNFPA Brussels Office, presented the report in the Belgian parliament.
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.
At the Family Planning Summit in London, donor governments, southern governments and philanthropic institutes promised to invest 5 billion dollars in sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries.
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.
The Trump administration has proposed to cut all support for international family planning and reproductive health in its budget proposal for 2018. This amounts to a budget of $607.5 million. The budget cut is unprecedented.
Thursday May 11th, Federal Parliament, Belgium. MPs played ‘snakes and ladders’, a life-size game on the health and rights of girls worldwide. The MPs were the pawns in the game and found themselves confronted with the obstacles girls in developing countries face.
There are about 1 billion girls in the world, many of which face discrimination and inequalities. Each year 16 million girls between 15 and 19 give birth. Complications related to pregnancies and delivery are the 2nd most important cause of death for girls in that age group. Every year 3 million girls run the risk of mutilation and every day 39,000 girls are subject to child or forced marriage.
The Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda want girls’ health and rights to be high on the political agenda. They call upon the Belgian development cooperation to continue focusing on this particular group.