Country Profiles

Belgium

Context

Belgium promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including access to family planning (FP), in its multilateral and bilateral cooperation.

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Policies & funding

abigail ekouevi

Belgium’s federal law on development cooperation (2013) stresses the importance of SRHR for sustainable development and prioritises reproductive health and HIV in its bilateral cooperation. At the regional level, sexual and reproductive health and family planning (SRH/FP) has been a priority in the foreign affairs of the Flemish government. SRH/FP is also a priority in operational federal policy documents on health and on gender in development.

She Decides as accelerator

Belgium has been a frontrunner for SheDecides, the international initiative that was launched in 2017 and seeks to promote women’s rights and SRH/FP worldwide. Under current Prime Minister and former Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, Belgium hosted the pledging conference in March 2017 and in its aftermath renewed its multi-annual core support for UNFPA, started to support UNFPA Supplies, and developed dedicated SRH/FP programmes in its government-to-government cooperation with partner countries.  In May 2022 Belgium hosted the She Decides 5+ conference in Brussels, which brought together SRHR activists from all over the world to discuss challenges and opportunities in the international promotion of SRHR. At the conference, Belgium reconfirmed its commitment to promote SRHR in its international cooperation and in March 2023 the new Minister of Development Cooperation, Caroline Gennez, stepped forward as a new international SheDecides champion.

Increased bilateral support for SRH/FP

Bilateral support for SRH/FP increased with the roll-out of the ‘She Decides’-SRHR programmes in Belgium’s partner countries, channelled mainly through government-to-government. Belgian’s support for SRH/FP through this stream amounted to 19,8 million Euros in 2022, coming from 14 million in 2020 Euros.

Sustained multilateral support for SRHR

Multilateral support for SRHR remained steady at 9 million Euros in core support to UNFPA and 2 million Euros for UNFPA Supplies.

Support to fight the HIV-epidemic has stagnated over the past years at 3 million Euros for UNAIDS and 15 million Euros for GFATM, and bilateral attention for the uptake of HIV prevention strategies has been in steep decline, despite the ongoing challenges with HIV prevention and response in Belgium’s partner countries.

Budget cycles and core support

Belgium’s ODA is decided upon by the parliament through a system of parliamentary budget cycles. As such, Belgium traditionally supports SRH/FP politically and mainly through its multilateral and bilateral cooperation. This support may however be impacted in the coming years as the current government is not living up to its promise to step up its efforts to get back on a growth trajectory towards the goal of 0,7% of its GNI. Belgium’s total support for ODA is currently standing at 0,45%, down from 0,46% in 2021 and 0,47% in 2020.

Belgium prefers providing core funding to multilateral SRH/FP and health organisations over earmarked funding, in order to respect the agencies’ decision-making. Belgium supports several multilateral organisations with specific attention for SRH/FP, such as UNFPA, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM), UNAIDS, UNICEF, the WHO and the World Bank. The regional government of Flanders is also supporting the Human Reproduction Programme of the WHO.

Internationally vocal

Belgium has been a key supporter of SRH/FP and SRHR internationally. In addition to making commitments around SRH/FP, the country champions the employment of progressive language in UN processes. Belgium’s leading role in the promotion of SRHR is supported by a vocal All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on health and gender equality, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’. Belgium is also actively engaging at the EU level: in 2021, the country joined the Team Europe Initiative focusing on SRHR in sub-Saharan Africa.

chamiya mohamad

Key documents

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