Speech of Minister Alexander De Croo at the Family Planning Summit in London
Statement by Alexander De Croo
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation (Belgium)
check against delivery
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start with one simple question: is there any sane excuse why women should not be able to decide over their own body?
Today, more than 200 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception. Without any access to family planning.
How can we ever progress if these women are held back?
How can we eradicate poverty when girls are forced to become mother at the age of 11? When women have to live in fear of being raped?
As a man, I am a fierce believer in the power of women, and in gender equality. Societies that respect women’s rights are happier and healthier. They are more prosperous and more peaceful.
And that’s why I would like to use this occasion to appeal to all my male colleagues around the world who are in government. Out yourself as a feminist. There is nothing glorious or great about denying women the chance to make their own choices. So stand up for gender equality, and invest in women’s sexual and reproductive health.
It is the very reason why Belgium hosted the She Decides-conference in Brussels this Spring. And why I did not hesitate a single moment to join the She Decides call for action and become a She Decides Torch Bearer.
At the Brussels Conference, Belgium pledged 10 million euro for sexual and reproductive health and rights. More than half of that money was destined for UNFPA, in core funding, delegated cooperation and to UNFPA Supplies. Four million euro will go to IPPF to secure the funding of their work in our partner countries.
Belgium is a strong advocate for core funding. That is why we will contribute in the next four years 36 million euro in core funding to UNFPA, 16 million to UNWomen and 12 million to UNAIDS.
These last years, the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Because of persisting conflicts, climate change and natural disasters, more people than ever are in need of shelter and humanitarian assistance. Girls and women being among the most vulnerable victims, exposed to death, exploitation and gender-based violence. We have to do more to protect them.
That is why Belgium will add this year 5 million euros to our original pledge for OCHA’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), bringing our total commitment to 25 million euro.
We consider this to be very softly earmarked money, but we want a stronger focus on the protection and empowerment of girls and women, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. I therefore joined the call to action for the Global Roadmap for data, monitoring and accountability for Family Planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Crises.
This brings me to the last point: the importance of reliable data. I’m a strong believer in the power of digital for development and Belgium signed the Global Adolescent Data Commitment launched here at the London Summit.
Additionaly, Belgium is setting up a project that allows smarter investments in family planning. We will provide seed money to establish a data platform to continuously monitor access to family planning services in low income settings.
The platform will bring together public sector, technology startups and academia. It will combine health data, survey data and big data such as satellite imagery, mobile phone and social media data. Because to me it is clear that smarter investment is crucial. Resources are limited, but if we are smart, if we work together and take advantage of the digital revolution, opportunities are unlimited.
I thank you.