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, SRH/FP 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 SRH/FP. SRH/FP is also a priority in operational policy documents on health and on gender 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 SRH/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. Concretely Belgium is to spend €36 million in core contributions to UNFPA between 2017-2020. In its partner countries with a high unmet need for FP, Belgium increased its support to UNFPA to implement SRH/FP programmes. 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.
Increased financial support for SRH/FP
Funding disbursements from Belgium to SRH/FP continue to increase, given the uptake in support for UNFPA, IPPF and the uptake of SRH/FP in Belgium’s bilateral cooperation. In 2017, Belgium disbursed €22.6 million in SRH/FP funding, an 18% increase on 2016.
Belgium currently has 14 partner countries, including countries with a high unmet need for FP, such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, DR Congo, Burundi and Uganda. New bilateral cooperation programmes were agreed for 2018-2022 with Guinea, Senegal and Burkina Faso, wherein SRH/FP is one out of 3 priorities. A total of €18 million will be dedicated to these bilateral SRH/FP programmes.
In 2018 Belgium renewed its support for UNFPA Supplies for another 2 years and committed to support UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, from 2018-2021 with €2 million per year.
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 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 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 health should directly benefit SRH/FP, both at the institutional level (e.g. through strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Health), as well as at the level of programmes and service delivery.
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Belgium has been a key supporter of SRH/FP, and employing strong language and making commitments around SRH/FP in UN processes, being one of the founders of She Decides. Belgium’s leading role in the promotion of SRHR is supported by a vocal All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on SRH/FP and gender equality, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’.
- In English:
- In Dutch:
- Het recht op gezondheidszorg waarmaken voor een duurzame ontwikkeling (2018)
- De Belgische bijdrage aan de wereldwijde strijd tegen hiv/aids (2008)
- De Belgische Ontwikkelingssamenwerking op het gebied van Seksuele en Reproductieve Gezondheid en Rechten (2007)
- Beleidsnota Het recht op gezondheid en gezondheidszorg (2006)
- Wet betreffende de Belgische Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (2013)
- Beleidsverklaring Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (2014-2019)
- Gender in de Belgische Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (2016)
- In French:
- Réaliser le droit aux soins de santé pour un développment durable (2018)
- La Coopération belge au Développement dans le domaine de la Santé et des Droits Sexuels et Reproductifs (2007)
- Le droit à la santé et aux soins de santé (2008)
- La contribution belge à la lutte internationale contre le VIH/SIDA(2006)
- Loi relative à la Coopération [belge] au Développement IDA (2013)
- Exposé d’Orientation Politique Coopération au développement (2014-2019)
- Le genre dans la Coopération belge au développement (2016)
Updated January 2019
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