How to promote and protect sexual health and rights in times of populism and conservatism? This was the key question of the EuroNGOs’ conference, the European network of organisations that advocate sexual and reproductive health and rights, organised in Brussels on 27-28 September. Growing support for conservative and populist movements leads to a political and societal climate in which sexual and reproductive health and rights are marginalised if not criminalised.
Member associations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation stand to suffer from the Global Gag Rule or Mexico City Policy. Across the world, IPPF expects to forgo $100 million in funding from the United States Government.
In 32 countries, including Belgian partner countries Burkina Faso, Burundi, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania and Flemish partner country Mozambique, IPPF member associations have indicated they will forgo funding because of their refusal to sign the Global Gag Rule.
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.
During a meeting with the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, an informal parliamentary group following up the gender, health and rights dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, Deputy Prime Minister De Croo discussed his plans for She Decides, the global fundraising initiative in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
During a She Decides visit to Benin and Senegal, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo announced an increase of his support to the UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
Ahead of the high level She Decides conference of March 2nd in Brussels, Belgium’s All-Party Parliamentary Group ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ called a parliamentary pre-meeting in the federal parliament. The implications of the Global Gag Rule (GGR), the rise of anti-choice movements and the question how to counter the effects of the GGR were on the agenda.
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.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo announced €10 million Belgian support for the She Decides Global Fundraising Initiative. This initiative is to respond to the drop in development aid for family planning. International support for family planning is threatened with the reintroduction of the so-called Global Gag Rule under the Trump-Pence administration. The rule stipulates that family planning providers who inform or refer clients to abortion centers are no longer eligible for USAID support. With the rule $600 million of support for family planning is under threat. This while the Global South is already faced with a high unmet need for family planning services and contraceptives. 225 million women would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but lack access to modern methods of contraception. Universal access to family planning is one of the fundamental targets to realize gender equality, as adopted in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Apart from Belgium, other countries expressed their support for women worldwide during the ‘She Decides’ conference of March 2nd, including Luxemburg, Cape Verde, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Canada.