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.
To raise awareness of the unmet need for family planning, 12 Belgian members of parliament of 9 different political parties revealed the size of their families to the Belgian public. They did so in a joint video message, in which they explained they were free to decide on the size of their family, while 214 million women in the Global South who want to avoid or postpone a pregnancy, cannot do so, because they lack access to contraceptives.
Everyone's social life is affected by the corona epidemic. However, many women are forced to work from home now, often in combination with children at home. Even before the crisis, statistics showed that women generally do more unpaid domestic work and have more caring responsibilities than men, including caring for children, the sick and the elderly. With increasing pressure on hospitals and health services, women will inevitably have to meet even more of the growing unpaid care needs. This includes cleaning, preparing food or looking after seriously ill or disabled people.
Belgium’s all-party parliamentary group ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ hosted a seminar on 25 years ICPD Programme of Action in the Belgian Senate, days after the ICPD Nairobi Summit of 12-14 November.
UNFPA Brussels Director, Sietske Steneker, introduced the MPs to the successes as well as the unfinished business in realising the ICPD Programme of Action. In the past 25 years, maternal mortality dropped by 40%, adolescent birth rates by one third, early marriages by one fourth and more women had access to family planning.
At the same time, progress has been slow and uneven. In Sub-Saharan Africa, maternal mortality remains an enormous challenge. Worldwide, only 50% of all women have the right to decide to use family planning. The barriers are multiple, including the out-of-pocket costs, the mentality of service providers, and, at the core of it all, the persistence of gender inequality.
Early October Inspire, the European Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) convened European and international SRHR advocates in the ancient city of Athens. The conference focused on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo (1994) and collected best practices as well as European input for the ICPD Nairobi Summit. Participants were invited to share successes by the SRHR community, and to reflect on the ongoing push-backs to SRHR from conservative and populist movements.
The Center for Reproductive Rights published it's 2019 edition of the World Abortion Laws Map.
26 countries prohibit abortion in all circumstances, 39 countries only allow abortion when the mother's live is at stake.
The Center for Reproductive Rights' new interactive website provides up-to-date information on the right to abortion across the world and includes an abortion law and policy guide, to support advocates in advancing reform, and a tool to track progress over time.
New Lancet Series on Gender Equality, Norms, and Health exposes failures by governments and health institutions to make progress towards gender equality, despite compelling evidence on impact of gender - and the spoken and unspoken rules of societies about acceptable gender behaviours - on health.
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.
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.
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.