Audit shows decreasing Belgian support for health and reproductive health in its international cooperation
The share of Belgium’s total expenditure on international cooperation spent on health and reproductive health has fallen to 11% in 2018, the lowest percentage in 4 years. A downward trend is found over the course of the previous legislative period, from 14% in 2015, 12.7% in 2016 and 12.4% In 2017. The trend is shown in the audit of the 2018 ODA expenditure by DGD, conducted by Sensoa, the Flemish centre of expertise on sexual health, which compared the 2018 expenditure with previous years.
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.
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.
To date, no fundamental change in governance has been seen, Perspective 2030, the Belgian coalition of NGOs monitoring the realisation of the 2030 Agenda of which Sensoa is a member, stated. The coalition published a critical report that took stock of Belgium’s efforts since signing on to the Agenda in 2015.
The 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place on March 11th-22nd at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Agreed Conclusions, focusing on the theme of social protection, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure were adopted after a week of long and late negotiations.
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.
Intensified HIV testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people than ever but persistent barriers remain
75% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, but increased efforts are needed to reach the 9.4 million people living with HIV who are not aware that they are living with the virus, UNAIDS 2018 reports shows.
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.
Kicking off with the success story of Ireland’s long road towards the recognition of the right to abortion, the annual 2018 EuroNGOs conference sought to re-energise the European SRHR community for the road ahead under the banner ‘Act on Hope’. Over 150 participants gathered in the heart of Ghent to share and exchange the lessons learned and to discuss the challenges promoting SRHR at home and in the world.
“Progress in SRHR requires confrontation of the barriers embedded in laws, policies, the economy, and in social norms and values (….) that prevent people from achieving sexual and reproductive health.”
This is what the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission “Accelerate progress – sexual and reproductive health and rights for all” states in no uncertain terms. The report documents the magnitude of the SRHR needs, provides a comprehensive definition of SRHR and a roadmap on how to advance universal access to SRHR.
The commission underlines that the improvement of people’s health depends on individuals’ ability to make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive lives and respecting the decisions of others. The commission’s report is the result of two years of joint collaboration of 16 respected SRHR experts from different parts of the world. Belgian Prof. Dr. Marleen Temmerman was one of them.