Belgium actively promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including access to family planning (FP), in its multilateral cooperation and in its bilateral cooperation.
Policies & funding
Belgium’s federal law on development cooperation (2013) stresses the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights for sustainable development and prioritizes reproductive health and HIV in the bilateral cooperation. At the regional level, SRHR is a priority in the foreign affairs of the Flemish government.
In his 2014-2019 Policy Declaration, the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation committed himself to supporting SRHR, including family planning. SRHR is also a priority in operational policy documents on health in development.
Belgium has been a frontrunner for SheDecides, the international initiative that was launched early 2017 and seeks to promote women’s rights and SRHR/FP worldwide. Belgium hosted the pledging conference in March 2017 and as part of Belgium’s contributions to SheDecides, the government decided to increase Belgium’s core support for UNFPA, increase its support for UNFPA country programmes and started supporting the RH Supplies programme. Between 2017 and 2020 the government will spend €36 million in core contributions to UNFPA. In addition, Belgium has increased its supports for UNFPA implementing SRHR/FP programmes in Belgian partner countries with a high unmet need for FP like Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger. In response to the reintroduction of the Mexico City Policy – better known as Global Gag Rule – Belgium has also started to support IPPF member associations in the South who stand to suffer funding shortfalls in the provision of SRH/PF services.
A top 10 donor
Funding disbursements from Belgium to SRH/FP continue to increase year-on-year, with over €29.9 million disbursed in 2016, a 31% increase compared to 2015. Belgium hosted the SheDecides pledging conference in March 2017, as well as making an initial pledge of €10 million as part of the initiative, followed by a further €64 million pledged at the FP Summit in July 2017.
Belgium’s ODA is decided upon by the parliament through a system of parliamentary budget cycles. As such Belgium does not traditionally make pledges to global initiatives but rather supports SRH/FP politically and through its multilateral and bilateral cooperation. Belgium currently has 14 partner countries, including countries with a high unmet need for FP, such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Benin, DR Congo, Burundi and Uganda.
Belgium prefers providing core funding to multilateral SRHR and health organizations over earmarked funding. Belgium supports several multilateral organizations with specific attention for SRH/FP, such as UNFPA, the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM), the WHO and the World Bank. Flanders is supporting the Reproductive Health and Research Department of the WHO.
Apart from direct expenditures on reproductive health, more than half of Belgium’s total expenses for health contribute to reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health (RMNCH). These figures illustrate that a considerable share of the investments in global health should directly benefit RH/FP, both at the institutional level (e.g. through strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Health), as well as at the level of programme and service delivery.
During the post-2015 process, leading to the Sustainable Development Goals, and other international decision-making processes, Belgium has been a key supporter of SRHR/FP, and employing strong language and making commitments around SRH/FP. Belgium’s leading role in the promotion of SRHR is supported by a vocal All Party Parliamentary Group on SRHR and gender equality.
New Strategy Note on Health, including a module on integrated services with a submodule on SRHR (2017)
Updated January 2018
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