1 March 2017, Belgian Federal Parliament
Hon. Els Van Hoof, Belgian Member of Parliament and AWEPA Political coordinator of the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) programme, moderated on Wednesday 1 March 2017 a ministerial meeting between the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo and his Dutch counterpart Minister Liliane Ploumen. Topic of the conversation was the joint Dutch-Belgian initiative to set up a fund to protect the sexual and reproductive rights for women worldwide. This initiative came as a result of the current US presidential administration announcement to reactivate the so-called ‘Global Gag Rule. This decision has consequences over the ability of millions of girls and women worldwide to decide over their own bodies.
“In 1995, I participated as a 26-year-old woman, in the Women’s Conference in Beijing. During that Conference Ms. Hillary Clinton gave her legendary speech about how women’s rights are human rights. Among others, the right of women over their own body. It makes me sad and angry that the new Republican Presidential Administration, in 2017, is dragging us back to the past. Previous applications of the Global Gag Rule have led to major issues for vulnerable women in Kenya. It is important that both governments and organisations such as AWEPA speak with one voice. Repeating that scenario is for us, under any circumstances, not possible. ”
Hon. Els Van Hoof mentioned during the ministerial meeting that she is content to accept the invitation of the Belgian Minister to continue working on the theme of women’s rights. “The Minister invited me and I accepted the invitation wholeheartedly. I shall continue to work both through AWEPA and through the parliament on women’s rights, step by step until we reach our goals, concluded Van Hoof.