UNFPA Brussels director, Sietske Steneker, presented the report, aptly entitled ‘Against my will’, discussing the harmful practices against women and girls around the world. These harmful practices include female genital mutilation, child marriage and sex selection. They are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the absolute number of girls subjected to these practices is still growing, even after decades of hard work by advocates and grassroots organisations.
GAMS reminded the participants that FGM is a global issue, which also affects girls in Belgium. It is very much a human-rights issue, and working on norms and cultural ideas is crucial here too. They work in different sectors, and train professionals to have a culturally sensitive approach to the issue. GAMS emphasised there are no short-term solutions and that sustainable change means long-term involvement.
Minister Kitir closed the webinar by presenting her policy plans and answering questions. She emphasised sexual and reproductive health and rights will be important in her policy, with the SDGs at the heart of her work and a strong focus on the impact of policies on women’s well-being. She will also see to the systematic integration of SRHR in health system strengthening. Together with her colleague Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmes, she intends on being vocal on SRHR issues both internationally and bilaterally, as Belgium has been in recent years.