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International Women’s Day 2018: the clock is ticking for sexual and reproductive health and rights

Sexual and reproductive health and rights are increasingly under pressure. More than 214 million women need contraceptives but do not have access to contraception of their choice. 39% of pregnancies in developing countries are unintended. The unmet need for contraception leads to negative health consequences for women and girls and has a devastating effect on educational and economic opportunities for women and girls worldwide.

At the same the world is facing a contraceptive funding crisis, which has been recently exacerbated by the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule) of the Trump administration.[1] In the face of this changing political, economic and financial environment, the need for a continued progressive voice for sexual and reproductive health and rights is more needed than ever.

SRHR as a funding and policy priority

Together with Countdown 2030 Europe, Rutgers works to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights are a funding priority for European donors and a policy priority in Europe and globally. Countdown 2030 Europe is a consortium of 15 leading European non-governmental organizations working to ensure advancement of human rights and investment in family planning. In the Netherlands, Rutgers holds the Dutch government accountable for funding and policy commitments to protect, promote and fulfill SRHR of women and addresses the unmet need for contraception.


In order to raise more attention for the urgency of the unmet need and the importance of closing the funding gap for contraceptives, Countdown 2030 Europe members launched the Because She Counts campaign last year. The campaign activates policymakers, organizations and individuals to make change happen and to ensure policy and funding support family planning and SRHR for women and girls.

Parliamentary support in the Netherlands

On International Women’s Day 2018, Rutgers will support the inaugural event of the Multi Party Initiative on SRHR and HIV/AIDS. During this meeting CSOs and parliamentarians from a wide range of political parties will be given a platform to discuss recommendations to improve policies, practices and investments to ensure SRHR for all.  

Continuous and increased support and leadership is needed, especially in times where SRHR is under pressure. On International Women’s Day we give a clear signal to keep the SRHR of women and girls on the political agenda and to ensure women and girls have the freedom to decide their own paths.

The time is now!


[1] The Mexico City Policy states that organizations that receive overseas funding from the US cannot provide any abortions services (including information sharing; research related to abortion; advocacy activities).  A major consequence of the Mexico City Policy is that many organizations will face a huge loss of funding and will no longer be able to offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and family planning.