According to Professor in bio-ethics Peter Singer (DM, 7 July) population growth has become a taboo due to “a bizarre coalition of the Vatican, which has always been against anticonception and birth control, on the one hand, and radical feminists on the other, who gave priority to women’s freedom to choose how many children they want.” I choked in my coffee. Peter Singer is not an opponent of women’s rights, quite the contrary. And indeed, immediately after, the professor stated that these feminists “had a point, namely that family planning is a women’s right”. “But”, he continued, “at the level of the collective this leads to problems they forget to take into account, as an increase of young children equally increases the need for more schools, hospitals, jobs, etcetera.”
Member of Flemish parliament Piet De Bruyn received an award from LGBTI umbrella organisation Çavaria for his political work as rapporteur for the rights of LGBTI people in the Council of Europe. In this European political forum the MP presented the first extensive European report that defends and promotes the rights of intersex people. Piet De Bruyn is grateful for this award: "It is a privilege to work with the LGBTI community towards an inclusive society. In the coming years I will continue to work for all LGBTI people. The more I travel around Europe, the more I realise how important it is to continue to work for equality and freedom for every LGBTI."
The report on intersex people will be guiding for LGBTI activists across Europe as it embeds intersex rights within the international human rights framework. For many years, the Flemish Member of parliament has been an active member of the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, the Belgian All-Party Parliamentary Group advocating sexual and reproductive health and rights for which Sensoa functions as the secretariat.
Eighty-nine parliamentarians from 57 countries called on G7 governments to urgently address the challenges of migration, particularly as it affects women and girls. Their appeal came at an international parliamentarians' conference in Rome ahead of the G7 summit in Italy. Belgian Members of Parliament Petra De Sutter, Sabien Lahaye-Battheu and Daniel Seneseal were amongst the participants.
Body & Rights, the e-tutorial developed by Sensoa the expertise centre for sexual health and member association of IPPF in Belgium and commissioned by the Institute of Tropical Medicine and Be-cause Health, the Belgian platform for international health is now available in English.
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.
At the Commission’s 50th session, the UN Member States failed to reach an agreement. The Commission for Population and Development is the most important UN Commission for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The theme of the Commission’s 50th session was ‘Changing population age structures and sustainable development’. Special attention was thus going to the needs of over 1.8 billion young people in the world.
Member states spent more than 10 days negotiating. The final version of the draft resolution contained important references to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people and comprehensive sexuality education. The final version was rejected though when the US and a number of African countries, more particularly Egypt, Cameroon and Djibouti wanted to have sections on SRHR deleted.
The Trump-Pence administration has decided to cease all support to the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA. In 2016 only US support to UNFPA helped to prevent 2.340 maternal deaths, 947.000 unplanned pregnancies and 295.000 unsafe abortions. It allowed an estimated 800.000 people to freely decide about their number of children. US support to UNFPA also reached no less than 9 million people in humanitarian emergencies and refugee camps, where the organization provides sexual and reproductive health services and tries to prevent genderbased violence.
“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”.