March 2nd marked the first anniversary of She Decides, a global movement gathering individuals, organizations and governments committed to building a “new normal” where women and girls everywhere can decide about their own bodies, lives and futures. Without question.
IPPF EN is very encouraged at how European donor countries have rallied behind She Decides, contributing €223 million of the €400 million raised so far. However, although the European pledges are promising, analysis shows that much more will need to be done in 2018 and beyond if we are to achieve the full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) around the world. In the current landscape – where cuts in funding for global health have reduced the operating budgets of some IPPF members by up to 60% - it is more important than ever that European politicians maintain a strong and united front as champions of women’s right to live free reproductive lives, both in the EU and in the Global South.
As civil society, we know that many women and girls, especially the most marginalized, run the risk of being left behind and denied life-saving services if financial and political commitments from decision-makers are insufficient. Civil society organizations have a critical role to play in ensuring that SRHR are fully within reach for all, especially in the Global South where they remain key providers of SRHR services. This is why we are strongly committed as IPPF to remain a leading global SRHR advocate and health care provider.
By maintaining its longstanding strong support for SRHR, the European Union can truly contribute to improving people’s lives, both in the EU and globally. It must demonstrate real commitment in its next budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework - which is currently being prepared by the European Commission and which will guide EU spending for the coming years. The ongoing EU-UN Spotlight Initiative provides an additional opportunity for the EU to make its commitment real by tackling SRHR as a key area to effectively combat violence against women and girls.
We are hopeful about the EU commitments already made, but much more remains to be done if Europe is to play the fullest role possible in enabling everyone to decide about their own bodies, lives and futures.
*Based on a speech given by Aurore Guieu, IPPF EN, during the Infopoint She Decides Day 2018. The recording of the event is available.