National focus: Sensoa helps ensure SRHR greater development priority for Belgium

C2015E’s Belgian partner, Sensoa, acts as the longstanding secretariat of Belgium’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Millennium Development Goals, in the federal Parliament. When Belgians went to the polls in 2014, it was very encouraging to see that two thirds of members of the previous APPG were re-elected, either to the federal Parliament, the European Parliament or the Flemish or Walloon regional Parliaments. Sensoa therefore expects Belgium to maintain a strong representation of parliamentary advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the different assemblies.

As for the APPG, after the federal elections, Sensoa re-established the Group, inviting re-elected parliamentarians to continue to participate, and actively reaching out to newly elected MPs to join. On 8 October the group held their launch meeting, attended by 35 MPs, of whom 30 (re)enrolled, a hopeful indicator that the new federal Parliament will also ensure that SRHR are a priority across political parties.

A second meeting of the APPG was held in November on the eve of World AIDS Day. Sensoa invited Efrain Soria Alba, representative of Ecuador’s LGBTI community, and Nadia Ndayikeza, a young woman with HIV from Burundi, to testify about the poor SRHR and HIV indicators in their countries. After the testimony, the AIDS activists pinned a Red Ribbon on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo. During the event, the minister gave a strong speech in favour ofr SRHR, one of the key priorities in the Minister’s new policy declaration.

Sensoa also took the lead in organising the Be-cause Health (Belgian Platform on International Health) Seminar on ICPD beyond 2014 and Post-2015 in November, attended by more than 220 participants from all over the world, including representatives from donors, the UN, national and international NGOs and grassroots organisations. Strong keynote speeches were given by Prof. Dr. Gita Sen, Harvard School of Public Health and Indian Institute of Management, and Prof. Dr. Marleen Temmerman, Reproductive Health Research Department, WHO. Minister De Croo was present to receive recommendations from experts, including on RH/FP, and gave an inspiring closing speech in which he reiterated that access to RH/FP will be addressed in Belgium’s ongoing dialogues with partner countries in the Global South and underlined the importance of strongly anchoring SRHR in the post-2015 development agenda.

In April 2015, Belgium will chair the 48th session of the CPD, focusing on “Realizing the future we want: integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda”. Sensoa and other C2015E partners will closely follow this process.