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Dutch Discussion on Sustainable Development, Gender, and SRHR and the International Development Agenda

An Overview of a Recent Panel Discussion at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 12 April 2012

24.04.2012 |Amanda Peterson

In light of being in the final countdown for the Rio+20 Conference occurring this June 2012, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently partnered with Rutgers WPF, the Rio+20 Platform, Share-Net and WO=MEN to co-sponsor a panel discussion on “Sustainable Development, Gender, and SRHR and the International Development Agenda” in Den Haag, Netherlands.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Special Ambassador on SRHR and HIV/AIDS, Marijke Wijnroks, welcomed an absolutely packed room full of participants and spoke about how the 4 key issues of Dutch Development Policy (water, food security, security and the legal order, and sexual and reproductive health and rights) impact Dutch and greater EU efforts towards ensuring a successful Rio+20 agenda and outcome. This was followed by presentations from three panel members, including WECF Executive Director Sascha Gabizon.

The first panel member was Tewodros Melesse, the Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Mr. Melesse’s background as an economist and decades of experience working for sexual and reproductive health and rights on the African continent arms him with an invaluable perspective on the relationships between education, population, security, and the environment. Among other impactful statements, Melesse shared with the audience that, “We need healthy populations to produce and be in peace. Otherwise they are a threat to world security, regional security and national security. It is not just charity. It is an investment in world peace.”

Charles de Vries, the Senior Policy Advisor, Directorate for Gender Equality and LGBT Equality (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) and the second panel member, spoke on the Dutch government’s gender equality policy. The policy’s aim for an “equal balance of sexual preferences in society” is, according to Mr. de Vries, the “most sustainable for security and peace in the region and increasing equality and human rights in society.” However, Mr. de Vries was quick to clarify that “There is a difference in being right and in getting your way,” which he said in reference to his belief that it is important for countries advocating differing approaches to security and peace to work together in order to achieve success in values commonly shared instead of viewing differences as insurmountable.

As the third panel member, WECF’s Executive Director Sascha Gabizon presented a PowerPoint based on the status of negotiations for RIO+20 and an overview of the final countdown to the conference in June. 100+ heads of state and 50,000 participants are expected to be present in Brazil to discuss important issues, such as the green economy, human rights, and gender equality. Please see the link below to view the entire PowerPoint presentation.

The panel ended with a lively discussion that centered on questions and issues such as, “What does the “green economy” mean for women?”, “Who will take responsibility for financing global sustainable development?”, and “Though many countries have shared values, how do we navigate the reality that approaches to address and protect such values may be very different?” It remains to be seen if and/or how these questions will be addressed in Rio+20. Continue to check back on our website for related news and articles to stay updated.

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