Ploumen at conference in Brussels: delighted with overwhelming worldwide response to She Decides
The She Decides conference in Brussels today raised a total of €181 million. Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen, who launched the initiative, said she was delighted with the result. ‘It’s fantastic what countries, civil society and private organisations have done here. I feel confident that we will be able to sustain the family planning services that are so important to millions of women and girls in developing countries.’
Ms Ploumen expressed warm appreciation for her Belgian counterpart, Alexander De Croo, who was responsible for organising the conference. ‘Thanks to his support and the help of our Swedish and Danish colleagues, we managed to achieve this in just a few weeks.’
The next step
The objective of the conference was to build a broad international coalition. ‘The conference in Brussels certainly isn’t the end of She Decides, but rather the next step. And we have sent a message to the world that women and girls have a right to decide for themselves whether, when and with whom to have children,’ said Ms Ploumen. At the conference, the minister proposed setting up a Group of Friends to lead the She Decides movement.
In total, 57 countries were represented in Brussels. Many made donations and others pledged political support and are considering a financial contribution. Private organisations also attended and pledged their support. For example, the Gates Foundation gave $20 million and an anonymous donor pledged $50 million. Billionaire Chris Hohn also pledged $10 million.
Ms Ploumen launched She Decides in response to the decision by the new US administration to reinstate the global gag rule, banning aid to organisations that provide family planning services. This measure has created an estimated funding gap of $600 million in essential services, including sex education, contraception, maternity care and safe abortion. Ms Ploumen said, ‘This is a huge sum. But given what we’ve achieved in just a month, I think we’ll go a long way to making up for the loss, with contributions from governments and with the support of the public. It’s fantastic to see that upholding and strengthening women’s rights inspires such an overwhelming response from around the world.’