'She Decides' funding reaches €260 million
To date, She Decides, the international initiative of Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, has raised €260 million ($300 million). ‘That’s great news for millions of women and girls in developing countries. Because it means they’ll retain access to family planning facilities like sex education, contraception, safe abortion and maternity care. So great strides have once again been made since the Brussels conference this spring, when countries and private organizations pledged around €180 million for the initiative,’ the Minister said.
The Minister gave this update during her recent visit to Washington D.C. – the city where the decision was taken that triggered the She Decides initiative. In January, the American government resolved to abolish a comprehensive package of family planning programs, aimed at women in developing countries, that perform or provide information on abortions. Minister Ploumen: ‘This decision by the American government unfortunately is highly counter-productive: slashing these services will actually increase the number of unsafe abortions. This will have catastrophic consequences, as similar measures in the past have shown all too clearly.’
The success of the She Decides conference in Belgium gave the initiative a huge boost. It has been widely spotlighted, for instance at the Global Citizen pop festival in Hamburg and the Family Planning 2020 conference in London earlier in July as well as last week at the UN in New York. The ongoing enthusiasm has meant that countries and private organizations are continuing to donate. Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged new funding. ‘It’s fantastic to see how the funding gap is shrinking month by month,’ Minister Ploumen said. And contributions are still coming in from the general public. At present the total stands at around €460.000.
The She Decides movement is growing rapidly. Countries, organizations and ordinary people around the world are devising ways to actively support the initiative. Dozens of new ‘friends’ are registering on the website www.shedecides.com, where a manifesto can be signed. The site also shows alternative ways of contributing. With countries like Rwanda, Chad, South Africa, South Korea, Senegal, Nigeria and Mozambique befriending the initiative. ‘That, too, is an important signal,’ Minister Ploumen pointed out. ‘It shows once again that the international community is not abandoning women in developing countries to their fate, but seeks to guarantee their fundamental right to family planning.’