Minister Ploumen (foreign trade and development cooperation) was inundated by responses to her call for a fundraising initiative for family planning programmes. She received thousands of messages from over 150 countries in 23 languages through both social and traditional media. The vast majority of responses were positive, with many indicating a desire to donate to a fund. To meet this demand, the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs, in cooperation with Dutch NGO Rutgers, is launching 'SHE DECIDES - Global Fundraising Initiative’. Minister Ploumen: "The response to my call has been beyond expectation, with many positive reactions from around the world. It is heart-warming and inspiring that so many people from so many countries are standing up for the rights of women and girls."
SHE DECIDES is a response to the Global Gag Rule; the decision last week by the American government to suspend annual funding, causing the closure of a range of family planning programmes that benefit many millions of women in developing countries. This could amount to $ 600 mn per year. The programmes offer a broad range of services: sexual education, birth control, maternal care and safe abortion for women who are forced to undergo the procedure. "This causes a huge funding gap that can only be filled by a strong international response from governments, aid organisations, businesses and individuals. We cannot let women and girls down. They should have the right to decide if they want to have children, when they want to have children, and with who they want to have chilren.''
More information, such as a video message from minister Ploumen and general information on the aims and methods of the initiative are posted on the website shedecides.eu The website also provides details of two bank accounts (a Dutch and international one) for those who wish to make individual donations. More information will be added in the coming days.
This past week minister Ploumen worked hard to involve other countries and organisations in SHE DECIDES and will continue to do so the coming week. Several countries and organisations have already responded positively. Awaiting an initial assessment of support for the initiative, the Dutch government pledged €10mn to the fund. Ploumen: "We obviously need far more money. Judging by the signals we have received so far, I trust we will come a long way towards safeguarding essential provisions not just for women, but for society at large."