Everyone's social life is affected by the corona epidemic. However, many women are forced to work from home now, often in combination with children at home. Even before the crisis, statistics showed that women generally do more unpaid domestic work and have more caring responsibilities than men, including caring for children, the sick and the elderly. With increasing pressure on hospitals and health services, women will inevitably have to meet even more of the growing unpaid care needs. This includes cleaning, preparing food or looking after seriously ill or disabled people.
The prevention of, and response to, sexual violence was tabled by the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, Belgium’s all-party parliamentary group on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Alexandra Vasseur, an independent consultant was in charge of a large multi-annual evaluation of the international response to sexual violence in the DRC. The evaluation shows a lack of progress, despite years of international interventions in the DRC. A more holistic approach of sexual violence is needed to make sustainable progress. Such approach is based on awareness raising, a strong sectoral engagement and an increased commitment to end impunity.
The right of women to safe abortion should be guaranteed by all countries. However, a recent study by the International Planned Parenthood Federation demonstrates that too many barriers continue to be put in place by lawmakers, civil servants and care providers in various European and Central-Asian countries.
The right to an abortion is a hot topic in Belgium, as the new figures on abortion collected by the abortion evaluation commission show. The parliament is also to discuss a new abortion bill which will be voted on soon. The legislative change would extend the period within which women are able to end their pregnancies from 12 to 18 weeks. This is the perfect moment to compare the situation with different countries in Europe.
The UN Security Council adopted a weak resolution on the uptake of sexual violence in conflict. The Americans insisted on deleting any reference to sexual and reproductive health care for victims of rape and sexual violence from the text.
The Trump administration is systematically undermining the consensus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The administration wants to prevent any possible reference to abortion. With his entry into office the administration reintroduced the Mexico City Policy which prohibits American development aid to organisations which provide information on abortion or referrals to other organisations, even where abortion is allowed by law.