The new Minister of Development Cooperation is Meryame Kitir, member of the Flemish social-democratic party and a popular politician from the province of Limburg. She has a migration and working-class background and grew into politics through her involvement as a labour unionist. Her parliamentary work focused on social affairs, which will be an asset when engaging with Belgium’s international development cooperation.
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.
For World Aids Day, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ invited UNAIDS Brussels Representative Dr. Jantine Jacobi, Burundian youth representative Fabien Ndikuriyo, Stéphanie Drèze of MSF and Dr. Gert Scheerder of Sensoa to discuss the HIV epidemic worldwide, in Belgium and in Belgium’s partner countries.
Georges Dallemagne, Belgian MP and member of the Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda visited the Philippines and learned about the country's outstanding challenges in living up to the needs of its young population.
The Philippines counts as many as 104 million people and is the 13th most populated country in the world. The country has seen an unprecedented growth of its population, in part due to the lack of access to family planning. The Philippines’ ultraconservative catholic church forbade access to contraception and while its influence is said to be slowly lessening, it is still having a huge impact on the family planning decisions of citizens. Only 40% of all young women have access to contraceptives and one in 10 girls has their first child before the age of 10.
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.
On October 10th, at the federal parliament in Brussels, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, Belgium’s APPG on sexual and reproductive health and rights, kicked off for a new legislative period. The group unites parliamentarians from all colours, invested in advancing gender equality, health and rights internationally, as put forward in the ICPD Programme of Action and the SDGs.
The group, likely to make up around 30 members, will see to Belgium’s international role to achieve the ICPD PoA and the SDGs, and more specifically SDG 3, to achieve health and wellbeing for all, and SDG 5, to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. They will do so by convening regularly, informing the public, participating in international delegations, visiting the field, inquiring the government and drafting resolutions.
On Thursday the 28th of February in Brussels, the ‘The State of African Women’ report was presented on the eve of International Women’s Day at the federal parliament. Gina Wharton, policy advisory at IPPF European Network presented the research report by the Dutch KIT Royal Tropical Institute, a report that is part of an awareness project that goes by the title ‘Right by Her’. The research report maps the realisations as well as the gaps in the ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol by African states. This protocol is a legally binding instrument in which the rights of African women have been recognised by the member states of the African Union.
For International Women’s Day the Advisory Commitee for Societal Emancipation of the Chamber of People’s Respresentatives and the 'Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda' co-organize a lunch seminar to present and discuss the report ‘the State of African Women’, on Thursday 28 February.
In 'the State of African Women' report the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) of the Netherlands has mapped the implementation of African countries’ commitments to women’s rights. The report inquires into the uptake of gender-based violence, harmful practices and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African women.
Gina Wharton, policy advisor at IPPF European Network will present the findings of the report, followed by an exchange with Mme Wharton and Anouka Eerdewijk, KIT's leading researcher on this report.
A sandwich lunch and translation from English to French and Dutch is provided. We will close at 13:45 with a network coffee.
Entrance is free, but registration is required. If you would like to participate, mail your full name, title and organization to Marlies.Casier@sensoa.be by Monday 25th February the latest.
Date & time: Thursday 28th February, 12h30-14h. Please present yourself by 12:15 at the reception with your ID card.
Venue: Room Popelin, Forumgebouw, 2nd floor, Leuvensweg 48, 1000 Brussels
On World Aids Day, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, the Belgian all-party parliamentary group committed to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, bore testimony as to why they wear the red ribbon. The red ribbon is the symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV.
MPs from all political colours expressed their support for the continued global HIV response. They conveyed personal messages to the public, explaining why HIV should be of concern to all of us.
The ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ also rallied their peers as well as Ministers, pinning ribbons to their chests at the start of parliament’s plenary debates.