IPPF EN, alongside partner organisations based in Brussels, participated in the annual European week of Action for Girls from 10-14 October. The European Week of Action for Girls was co-organised with DSW International, Plan EU, EPF, World Vision EU, The European Women's Lobby, Care International, Save the Children EU, the ONE Campaign and Countdown 2030 Europe, and was supported by the European Commission (DevCo), and the UN. It is an annual week-long event which aims to ensure that girls’ empowerment is promoted and their rights are protected and fulfilled in the EU’s external action, through adequate policies, funding and programs. This year we drew attention to funding gaps, and to find solutions for bridging these gaps, in order to ensure that EU policies are delivering on their commitments and what girls really need.
Marking the launch of this year’s edition of the European Week of Action for Girls, we had a life-sized game of snakes and ladders alongside our EU Girl's week partners! The game highlighted the obstacles that girls all around the world face in their everyday lives, as well as what the EU can do to empower these girls and improve gender equality around the world, particularly through its development cooperation policy. Speakers included:
- Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development
- Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International
- Dagmar Schumacher, Director of the Brussels Office of UN Women
- Malin Björk, MEP
- Iratxe Garcia-Perez, MEP and Chair of the FEMM Committee
Workshop on "comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sustainable development: opportunities for EU development cooperation"
To kick start the week, IPPF EN held a joint interactive workshop with the European Women's Lobby, which brought together policy makers and young people from across Europe and beyond to discuss what makes comprehensive and quality education programmes, what is the current impact of CSE and how could this drive the agenda for sustainable development. Sustainable development rests on three pillars: economic, social and environmental. By empowering young people, particularly young girls, and allowing them to play the role they choose in society, CSE is a key enabler for both social and economic sustainable development. See the full prezi presentation and briefing paper.
The event was introduced by IPPF EN Director, Caroline Hickson and Joanna Maycock of the European Women's Lobby, followed by Emmanuelle Le Texier, Policy Advisor for the S&D group, Flora Geley, DEVCO B2, Civil Society and Local Authorities, and Pascale Maquestiau from Le Monde selon les femmes who each presented the work they do on SRHR. They highlighted that a gender approach was key for CSE and shouldn't only be viewed as part of health system but also as part of a human rights agenda.
There was an interactive group session on how EU development cooperation policy could support CSE, which was followed by a group discussion on opportunities and challenges faced by young people's access to quality sexuality education programmes.
Some challenges relayed were that young people turned to pornography and the internet to learn about their sexuality and sexual health. This is largely because of poor quality education programmes due to legislation or a lack of funding. The groups highlighted that young people must be at the table when it comes to policy making, and the underlying consensus on empowering girls to make their own decisions was teaching them about consent.