All over the world, we see sudden and drastic restrictions on democratic freedoms. Our movements are monitored increasingly. Public meetings are prohibited; the state of emergency is announced; legislative debates are postponed and, in certain countries, the operation of parliaments is suspended or their oversight role is severely curtailed in favour of the executive branch. All over the world, governments are ramping up digital surveillance. In Europe for example, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán granted himself dictatorial powers to ignore laws indefinitely and to suspend elections and referendums. In Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an emergency decree preventing the parliament from meeting, in what newspaper Haaretz called a 'corona-coup'. Experts are already pointing to the increasing pressure on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls everywhere in the world.
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
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo has suspended the preparations of a new cooperation agreement with Tanzania. The human rights situation has been deteriorating, especially with regard to LGBTI, young mothers and pregnant teenagers.
The minister had been preparing a new cooperation agreement, a follow-up to the current one, but decided to suspend talks given the outright attacks on the LGBTI community, especially since the governor of Dar Es Salaam’s call to hunt down gay people.
The minister also expressed concerns over the rights of pregnant girls and young mothers. They are not allowed to go to school during their pregnancy and are forbidden to resume their education after they have given birth. The minister was quoted as saying “This way you take away girls’ future and make them enter a negative spiral with no escape. It condemns them to a life of dependency.”
The Worldbank and the European Union have also reconsidered their support to the country. The Worldbank rejected a 300 million dollar loan earlier this month and the European Union announced it will reconsider its collaboration with the country.
On 26 July 2018, UNAIDS published the latest statistics on the global HIV epidemic. In 2017, an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV. 21 million people have access to treatment, a record high. Consequently, the number of AIDS related deaths has dropped, to 940,000 in 2017. The biggest successes lay in Eastern and South-Eastern Africa, with a 42% decline in the number of AIDS related deaths since 2010. They reflect the successful scale-up of treatment in the region. Access to treatment also improved in most other regions, although (much) more modestly.
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.”
With a High-Level Panel on the European Development Days, Belgium raised attention for the unmet needs of adolescents.
June 6, Brussels. "Unsafe abortion is more accessible then contraceptives”, Young EDD leader Archane Phonsina said, in her testimony of young women’s challenges in the DR Congo. Phonsina lost one of her best friends to an unsafe abortion and is one of the leading voices for adolescents’ access to family planning and safe abortion in her country. “Simply speaking about family planning is still stigmatised and many girls will have at least two unsafe abortions in their lifetime”, she explained.
Parliament calls on government to step-up the promotion of gender equality in Belgium's development cooperation
On March 15 the Belgian Chamber of People's Representatives adopted a resolution to promote gender equality and women's emancipation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The resolution, an initiative by MP Fatma Phelivan, calls on the Belgian government to step-up it's efforts.