Countdown 2015 Europe partners call upon EU to ensure that girls are at the heart of SDGs

Countdown 2015 Europe partners welcome the adoption of EU’s new Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II) adopted by EU Development Ministers (October 26, 2015) as it aims to support partner countries, especially in developing, enlargement and neighbouring countries, to achieve tangible results towards gender equality as well as the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Council reiterated the Council Conclusions adopted earlier in May on Gender in Development where C2015E advocacy ensured strong references to family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH).  Family planning has a firm place in the new GAP II and its objective 11 is very much built around FP/RH and has clear linkages with SDGs. The addition of FP is explicit, which is an enhancement from the previous Action Plan, and C2015E partners contributed to this result through concerted advocacy efforts with the 3 European institutions both in Brussels and in capitals.

To ensure a comprehensive gender approach is really maintained in EU policies and that the GAP II is clearly implemented in the future, Brussels based C2015E partners actively participated to the European Week of Action for Girls which called upon European decision makers to put girls at the heart of Sustainable Development Goals.

The European Week of Action for Girls is an annual week-long event which aims to ensure that girls’ empowerment is promoted and their rights are protected and fulfilled in the EU’s external action, through adequate policies, funding and programs. The 2015 Week of Action featured a series of activities which look at what the freshly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mean for girls. This year’s edition took place under the patronage of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.

“The European Week of Action for Girls is indeed a remarkable opportunity to raise our voices and demand equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls, wherever they are in the world,” in his statement says European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.

C2015E partners supported a range of activities, including  photo exhibitionanimation  as well as a round table discussion at the European Parliament “Girls and the Sustainable Development Goals: Where do we stand?”

This roundtable provided an opportunity to assess the SDG outcomes with members of the European Parliament and other EU policy makers, as well as parliamentarians from the Global South. The event, hosted by Hon. Mr. Charles Goerens and Hon. Ms Maria Noichl, Members of the Parliament, was a vivid discussion on the place of girls in this new global development agenda, focusing on girls’ rights, education, gender equality, economic empowerment, and health, notably sexual and reproductive health and rights, and family planning.

In her speech Ms Sietske Steneker, Head of UNFPA office Brussels, stressed the need of family planning:  “We need to provide them with comprehensive health services that include the option of contraception”.  To which Ms Kehkashan Basu, 15 year old, Youth Ambassador for the World Future Council, added:  “Civil society needs to work closely with governments and policy makers to bring about an improvement in sexual and reproductive health and rights issues”.

Watch a summary video of the round table discussion.