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.
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.
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.
“It is proving increasingly difficult to discuss sexual and reproductive health and rights in UN texts. Sexual orientation, gender identity and sexuality education are also particularly hard to address. These concepts are seen as a threat to so-called ‘traditional family values’, Senator and Prof. Dr. Petra De Sutter explained. “Family is understood as a unit with a male breadwinner and the woman in the role of house wife”.
An important win for women’s rights activists at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women as the Commission recognized sexual and reproductive health and rights as human rights of women, “that include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on all matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, as a contribution to the fulfilment of their economic rights, independence and empowerment”.
On the eve of the international conference She Decides in Brussels, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo launched Body & Rights, a bilingual (French/Dutch) website with an e-tutorial on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Belgium is hosting the International Conference ‘She Decides’ in support of the rights of girls and women. Like-minded countries, NGOs and international organizations will express their support to sexual and reproductive health organizations affected by the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy or ‘Global Gag Rule’ (GGR). In the wake of this conference, the Belgian All Party Parliamentary Group ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ organizes a pre-meeting in the Belgian parliament on Wednesday March 1st.
The parliamentary pre-meeting will address the impact of the GGR on women’s rights and their access to family planning, elaborate on the international anti-gender and anti-choice movement and address the question of how to best advance sustained political support for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe and beyond.
Speakers include Dr. David Paternotte (ULB), Suzanne Ehlers (Population Act International), Caroline Hickson (IPPF European Network), Ton Coenen (EuroNGOs), Neil Datta (European Parliamentary Forum), Arthur Erken (UNFPA).
More information and registration form
Timing: Wednesday 1 March 14:00-17:00
Venue: Congreszaal, access through Federal Parliament, Leuvenseweg 21, 1000 Brussels
Participation is free but registration is required.
Please register through the online form before 24 February.
For security reasons it is recommended to arrive well in advance.
Some European leaders give president-elect of the USA, Donald Trump, the benefit of the doubt, since election rhetoric and ensuing policy can be very different. But on sexual and reproductive health and rights, we should be prepared for the consequences of the election.