Countdown 2015 Europe is delighted at the strong political signal sent by EU Member States when their ministers adopted a set of Conclusions on Gender in Development at the Foreign Affairs Council on 26 May. Our national and Brussels-based partners played a very active role in providing input to officials throughout negotiations on the text. We are very pleased that the final result reiterates and builds on the EU’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU development cooperation.
The text emphasizes the EU Council’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of existing international agreements (the Beijing and International Conference on Population and Development platforms of action and follow-up conferences). Crucially, it underlines “the right of every individual to decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health”. Member States also made specific references to issues such as early and forced marriage, comprehensive sexuality education and female genital mutilation.
These Conclusions are a very good basis for the inclusion of important reproductive health and family planning topics within EU development cooperation policies. In particular, they bode well for the EU’s future Gender Action Plan II which is due to be adopted later this year by the Council in parallel to the adoption at the United Nations of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The so-called GAP will be key in defining how the EU implements and finances its future international commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
To find out more, you can read the Council’s press release and full text of its Conclusions on Gender in Development.