International Women's Day

  • March 8, 2022

On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. 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.

To Flanders, women’s rights are of the utmost importance. Therefore, Flanders strives towards equal opportunities for men and women and attaches great importance to the fight against sexual and domestic violence. Flanders’ goal is the equal participation and representation of women in society. 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 order to meet the commitments, listed in the Istanbul Convention, to tackle domestic violence in a  coordinated way, Flanders restructured its approach in 2016. Flanders brought together all relevant actors - social services, probation services, police, justice department… - to improve collaboration and to stop domestic violence more easily. These services are 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. 

The Government of Flanders doesn’t only focus on women’s rights within Flanders, but also abroad. In the past year, Flanders provided financial support to various organizations that defend human rights, and more specifically women’s rights, for example Bedaaya 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 and through development cooperation and international projects, Flanders will continue to support and promote respect for women’s rights.