International Women's Day is celebrated every year on 8 March. In 2022, the international campaign theme is "Break the Bias".
As the world is slowly recovering from the COVID-19-pandemic and as we are confronted with new global challenges, it is crucial to keep focusing on women’s rights everywhere. Flanders strives towards equal opportunities for men and women and equal participation of women in society, and attaches great importance to the fight against sexual and domestic violence.
Flanders actively defends and promotes women’s rights in EU policy (Gender equality | European Commission (europa.eu))
In order to meet the commitments listed in the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Flanders restructured its approach in 2016. To improve collaboration and end domestic violence more easily, all relevant actors – social services, probation services, police, justice department, … – were brought together and centred in so-called ‘Family Justice Centers’, where families receive all support needed. This approach will be rolled out in all Flemish provinces in the coming years.
In its foreign policy, Flanders highlights the need for education for women and the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including the right to accessing safe abortion services. In the past year, Flanders provided financial support to various organizations that defend human rights, and more specifically women’s rights, for example Badaaya in Egypt. The Council of Europe was again supported to fight violence against women and the OECD received support to carry out an innovative project on gender data.
Flanders is also a leading, decades-long donor of the Special UN-Programme of Research, Product Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, hosted by the World Health Organization. This Programme conducts research on how to improve access to SRHR-related service-delivery to women adolescents and sexual and gender minorities, while monitoring critical indicators such as gender based violence, maternal mortality and safe/unsafe abortion trends globally. For the new UNAIDS’ Programme and Budget, 2022-26, Flanders played a critical role in the tough negotiations for inserting a stand-alone and strong results area on gender, requiring the Programme to have much increased attention to the continued vulnerability of women and girls in all their diversity in this regard.
Currently, Flanders is also involved in the development a set of globally accepted Voluntary Guidelines (VGs) on Gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition. The VGs will provide EU members and development partners with concrete practical guidance on how to advance gender equality, women’s and girls’ rights, and women’s empowerment as part of their efforts to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
Both internally, in EU policy and through development cooperation and international projects, Flanders will continue to support and promote respect for women’s rights.