She Decides: Alexander De Croo and Benin First Lady meet on women’s rights

Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo received the First Lady of Benin Claudine Tallon. Mrs Tallon is on a working visit to our country this week in the framework of her Claudine Tallon Foundation, which aims to improve women’s and children’s rights in Benin. Last week, Belgium, Benin and Senegal organised a high-level event at the United Nations in New York on the use of digital data for better access to family planning.
 
The meeting between Alexander De Croo and Claudine Tallon follows Minister De Croo’s “She Decides” site visit to Benin and Senegal earlier this year, when Minister De Croo visited a range of projects aiming to improve girls’ and women’s rights, especially sexual and reproductive health and rights. The programme included visits to initiatives on family planning, maternity care and sexual education. Minister De Croo also visited the recently created Claudine Tallon Foundation, which aims to improve women’s and children’s rights in Benin.
 
Alexander De Croo: “During my visit to Benin, I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the will to progress, especially among youth. They are ready to build a better future. Access to good education and respect for their rights are crucial: the First Lady’s support is an important signal. Sustainable development is only possible when girls and women have the same rights as boys and men. It is important that this is endorsed at the highest political levels in Benin.”
 
A range of visits
During her visit to Belgium, the Beninese First Lady will conduct talks on improving women’s and children’s rights. Working visits to Plan Belgium, Protos and the King Baudouin Foundation are planned among others. Mrs Tallon will also visit the International Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Ghent, where she will be received by Professor Marleen Temmerman. Additionally, a meeting is planned with Queen Mathilde, the honorary President of UNICEF Belgium and an advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Equal rights for girls and women are an important priority of Belgium’s international development policy, including in the cooperation programmes with Benin. Belgium supports, among other initiatives, the UNICEF campaign against child marriages and the sexual education work of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Benin.
 
Big data for better family planning
Last week, Belgium and Benin, together with Senegal, organised a high-level event on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on deploying big data for better access to family planning. With Belgium’s support, a project will start in Benin and Senegal to use big data and satellite imagery to map girls’ and women’s access to family planning services.
 
The pilot project will be led by a consortium consisting of two Belgian universities (Namur and Brussels) and Belgian data company Bluesquare. The aim is to develop a broad data platform that can also be deployed in other countries to improve access to family planning.