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 the country’s contributions to SheDecides, the government decided to spend €36 million in core funding 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 and is now including a ‘SheDecides’-programme promoting SRH/FP and gender equality into every new bilateral cooperation agreement. Belgium also started funding UNFPA’s Supplies Programme and IPPF Member Associations suffering from the Mexico City Policy.
Drop in overall financial support for SRH/FP but increased attention for SRH/FP in Belgium’s bilateral cooperation
In 2017, which marked the SheDecides movement, Belgium’s funding to SRH/FP stood at an unprecedented €22.6 million high. In 2018 funding through all SRH/FP streams dropped to €19.2 million, the same level as in 2016. This was mainly to a reduction of funding going through specific SRH/FP organisations & initiatives.
Belgium’s funding for bilateral cooperation on SRH/FP comes in addition to these €19.2 million. Currently Belgium 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. In the new multi-annual bilateral cooperation programmes with Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Benin, SRH/FP is one of 3 priorities.
In addition to 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 programmes and service delivery level. The challenge for Belgium will be to also ensure sustained support for health, as this sector has suffered from budget cuts during the 2014-2019 legislation.
Budget cycles and core support
Belgium’s ODA is decided upon by the parliament through a system of parliamentary budget cycles. As such, Belgium traditionally supports SRH/FP politically and mainly through its multilateral and bilateral cooperation.
Belgium prefers providing core funding to multilateral SRH/FP and health organizations over earmarked funding, in order to respect agencies’ decision-making. Belgium supports several multilateral organizations with specific attention for SRH/FP, such as UNFPA, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM), UNAIDS, the WHO and the World Bank. Flanders is supporting the Reproductive Health and Research Department of the WHO as well as UNAIDS.
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Belgium has been a key supporter of SRH/FP internationally. In addition to making commitments around SRH/FP, the country champions the employment of progressive language in UN processes. 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 2020
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