One year She Decides: 450 million euros for sexual and reproductive rights and health

Alexander De Croo

Exactly one year after the launch of She Decides, we count 450 million euros extra financing for sexual and reproductive rights and health for girls and women.  Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo is satisfied with the result, but also warns : "The battle isn't over. Too many girls and women still don't have the freedom to decide for themselves when, with whom and how many children they want."

Exactly one year ago Belgium, together with the Netherlands, which took the initiative, launched She Decides in response to US president Trump's decision to halt all financial support for foreign organisations in the south which are supporting safe abortion, contraconceptives and family planning. Barely one month later, in early March 2017, Belgium organized an international conference in Brussels. More than 50 countries and organisations showed their support and pledged 181 million euros. One year later, this amount has more than doubled.

Alexander De Croo is satisfied with the result, but also warns: "She Decides has helped a lot, not in the least with the financial support for sexual and reproductive health it has generated. The negative impact of the American decision has been compensated for a considerable part, but more will be needed in the coming years. We have to continue our efforts for She Decides to enable more girls and women to make their own important choices on their health and on their future."

Extra Belgian means

Last year, Belgium has freed up an extra 16 million euros to invest in sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women. Belgium also increased core funding of UNFPA, the hardly hit UN Population Fund. Minister De Croo als decided to finance a UNFPA-program in Benin, a project aiming to sensibilize the youth on sexual violence against girls through the use of mobile phones. UNFPA supplies, which provides for reliable contraceptives, also received Belgian financing and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an NGO, has been able to continue its work in Burundi, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda, thanks to Belgian support.

From the beginning, She Decides was meant to be more than just a counter movement. The aim is to bring together everybody supporting the fundamental right of girls and women to to choose for themselves if, when, and how many children they want. Countries, organizations and private foudnations can pledge. But also individuals can subscribe to the She Decides manifesto and contribute financially through crowd funding.

She Decides action in Senegal

More support is still needed. She Decides ambassadors all over the world will reinforce that message on 2 March, exactly one year after the international conference in Brussels. On behalf of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, will do that in Senegal, a partner country for the Belgian development cooperation.

Alexander De Croo: "Mother and child death rates in Senegal have dropped during the last few years, but they remain high. Unsafe abortions and complications at birth are among the most important factors. We also need to intensify our actions against female genital mutilation and against gender violence. These are exactly the priorities of She Decides, the Belgian Development Cooperation and Senegal itself."

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Alexander De Croo