Q: What is SheDecides?

SheDecides is a global movement, launched at the start of 2017, to support the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have. This includes having access to modern contraception, to sexual and relationship literacy and safe abortion. SheDecides unites everyone who believes that every girl and every woman should decide for herself about what she does with her body: to enjoy all sexual and reproductive rights, the right to pursue healthy, pleasurable sexual lives – free from judgement, stigma, coercion and harm. SheDecides is building a broad, inclusive social and political movement, grounded in the realities of women and girls everywhere.  SheDecides is unapologetic about our focus on the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive rights and health, including safe abortion and comprehensive sexuality education.

The simple phrase “She Decides” has resonated among many different people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. It is a simple, clear rallying cry that unifies several human rights issues for every girl and woman worldwide, especially autonomy over her body and what it means for her, her community and society more broadly if she can decide. SheDecides as a movement unites the energy, drive, anger and influence of the widest range of citizens, businesses, governments, parliamentarians, young people, international organisations, foundations, collectives, NGOs, grassroots activists, health and legal  professionals, academics, artists and everybody who cares about the rights of girls and women. This diversity, the fact that such a broad range of people and groups stand shoulder to shoulder; and the high level of political support from diverse regions and countries, creates a unique opportunity. By connecting them, SheDecides is bringing to the surface the fact that we – the people who believe that She should decide - are the majority.

SheDecides amplifies voices of positive change, supports real change in communities and countries, mobilises more resources, demonstrates solidarity and gives birth to new alliances.


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Q: Where did this idea come from?

Initiated by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, SheDecides responded to US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule in January 2017. Her call for action immediately mobilised other progressive and feminist governments. The Global Gag Rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy (and now re-named by the US government), forces non-US NGOs to choose between receiving U.S. global health assistance and providing the full range of care that women need. In order to receive US funds, providers must declare that they will not give information and referrals for abortion or providing abortion care, even with their own non-U.S. funds. More on that here.

Unless significant new resources are found, the Global Gag Rule will force healthcare clinics to close and prevent women from getting life-saving care – contributing to more unintended pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, more illness and more deaths. These clinics are life-lines for women and girls because many provide a full range of care and support, including access to a full range of contraceptive choices, HIV prevention, advice and literacy about sexual health, prenatal and maternal health care as well as safe abortions. It doesn’t just affect organisations who provide these services, but also those that provide information and counselling about abortion. It is clear that this policy will have devastating consequences for girls and women and their communities. This was the spark that lit the SheDecides movement.

On 2nd March 2017, as an immediate response, the first SheDecides conference was held in Brussels and was co-organised by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. More than 50 governments attended the conference, among 450 participants including youth leaders, parliamentarians and representatives from UN agencies, NGOs, private foundations and the private sector. This gathering enabled global leaders to raise their voices in support of the full rights of girls and women, and pledge their commitment to ensure that SheDecides. This outpouring of support included €181 million (approx. US$ 200 million) of new pledges and a new generation of Champions. SheDecides continues to evolve as movement uniting citizens, businesses, governments, parliamentarians, young people, international organisations, foundations, collectives, NGOs, grassroots activists, health and legal  professionals, academics, artists and more, who work independently and collectively to promote a new normal where every girl and woman can fulfil her right to decide about her body, her future and her life; to make sure that sexual and reproductive rights are a priority at local and global levels.




Q: is shedecides just a reaction to president trump?

The spark for the SheDecides movement was the anger and the indignation triggered by the reinstatement and drastic expansion of the Global Gag Rule- and it would be a mistake to limit SheDecides to just that. While it was that gut feeling of anger and frustration at what was expected in terms of attack on women’s reproductive rights that led to millions of women, men, families to participate in the Women’s Marches, SheDecides is actually much broader than just that one moment and that one government.

SheDecides is about all of us who want to see a world where women and girls are free: free from oppression, free form force, and free to make their own choices about their future. While the Global Gag Rule is an immediate threat to that (and yes, it must be dealt with), it is not the only policy or law that must change. In a lot of countries and a lot of places there is rising opposition to the idea that women and girls can decide what happens to their bodies and lives. Many governments have laws and policies in place that prevent girls and women from making the choices that are right for them. We are seeing increasingly vocal, fringe and extreme perspectives undermining the rights of women and girls. This is a global problem with many local manifestations. Women and girls and their families around the world have been denied life-saving services before Trump, and will face barriers and challenges after he leaves office.




Q: What values does SheDecides stand for?

The SheDecides manifesto describes the world we aspire to: a world where every girl and every woman every where is free from oppression, coercion and harm, and is able to access the full range of live-saving and life-affirming health care that she needs when she needs it, without stigma or discrimination of any kind. This includes but is not limited to: accurate information about her body and her options, access to a wide range of modern contraceptives, counselling, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and access to safe abortion. SheDecides Champions and Friends are calling on governments to ensure that they are funding and providing this full range of quality services, and calls on other partners such as foundations, philanthropists and donors to contribute to funding these services wherever needed.


Q: Who is part of the movement?

SheDecides is an open, global movement and anyone who supports the principles in the SheDecides manifesto is welcome to join.  All you need to be part of SheDecides is a commitment to making the world a better place for women and girls, and a belief that you can be part of that change. Sign the manifesto here.




Q: What is a Friend of SheDecides and how do I become one?

Movements are created by people in the streets, and SheDecides is no different. The backbone of SheDecides and the strongest force pushing its agenda forward are the Friends of SheDecides.

Friends are citizens, organisations, governments or private parties that publicly support the goals of SheDecides and commit to taking an action to contribute towards a world that is braver, stronger and safer for the girls and women - and everyone – in it. Click here to read the manifesto and become a Friend of SheDecides.


Q:  What about men?

Men and boys are welcome and encouraged in the SheDecides movement. SheDecides is an open, global movement committed to promoting, providing, protecting and enhancing the fundamental rights of every girl and woman. Men and boys, as allies, sons, lovers, workers, husbands, friends, fathers, brothers, sons and uncles, have a key role to play in advocating for women and girls to exercise those fundamental rights. Men and boys can raise their voices and act in support of girls and women, to create a world where SheDecides.


Q: Are you inclusive of trans-women and gender non-conforming people?

Yes. SheDecides is a movement that promotes the sexual and reproductive rights of all women, including those who were born women, those who transitioned, and those who define themselves as non-binary or gender non-conforming. We believe that all people should have the right to decide what happens to their bodies, their lives and their futures. The reason we are called ‘She’ Decides is to reflect the fact that worldwide women and girls continuously have their rights to decide trampled on, particularly with regards to their bodies, including whether, when and with whom they have children, as well as with whom they have sex and they marry.



Q: What is a Champion of SheDecides and how do I become one?

Champions are friends of SheDecides who are willing and able to take a leadership role in catalysing the movement and lead by example. They are the lights that lead the way towards a world where every girl and every woman has the ability to control her body, her life and her dreams.

They are a global group of leaders, individuals and friends who are committed to the SheDecides objectives and are also willing to serve as active champions for the movement, putting in substantial energy and personal commitment to advancing the goals of the movement.

Being a Champion for SheDecides means being a leader. It means planning activities, hosting events, speaking up for SheDecides, and pushing others to change policies, commit funding and become involved in the movement.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion please contact the SheDecides Support Unit with a letter of motivation.




Q: What is the role of the SheDecides Support Unit?


Movements don’t grow and thrive automatically. To make sure that SheDecides grows as a movement that leads to lasting change in people’s lives, a small support unit was created in mid-2017. The role of the SheDecides Support Unit is to nurture the development of the SheDecides movement and support Friends and Champions to speak out and advocate for the rights of girls and women. It is responsible for central communications related to SheDecides, and will catalyse and grow the movement to help it achieve its objectives. It will do so by connecting and communicating, sharing information, providing toolkits and amplifying best practices.

The Support Unit acts independently within the spirit of the original movement and develops it further, working with its Champions as a key sounding board. An important principle is that the Support Unit will not do anything that someone else is already doing. SheDecides is a partnership where most of the work is done by partners (Friends and Champions). The Support Unit is a catalyst and facilitator; it does not embody or control the movement. A primary consideration is to foster the agility, energy and edginess of the movement for sexual and reproductive health and rights on a global scale. Friends and Champions own the movement, and it is envisaged that, as a result, SheDecides will take on many different shapes and grow organically.

While the SheDecides Support Unit and its Friends and Champions will push governments to increase the amount of money they put towards sexual and reproductive health, it does not control any funding and is not a grant-giving mechanism. The SheDecides Support Unit does not provide health care and is unable to refer girls and women to specific health care providers or help solve individual problems.



Q: How is the SheDecides Support Unit funded?

The SheDecides Support Unit is currently funded by a grant from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). As the movement grows it is expected that other Foundations will join CFF in funding the Support Unit.

All donations to the SheDecides crowdfunding campaign will go to organisations affected by the Global Gag Rule, not to the Support Unit, as defined here.



Q: How will SheDecides support girls and women to have access to the services they need?

Through raising our voices and demanding change SheDecides is working to increase political support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to remove the barriers that get in the way of health care. The groundswell in support, funding and commitment aims to create a different world, a new normal where girls and women have control over their bodies, their futures and their lives.

In order to create that overall goal, collectively as Friends and Champions we will need to:

·         Stand up and speak out: change the narrative and engage in positive conversations about sexual and reproductive health and rights; be counted as the majority we are.

·         Change the rules: advocate for and enact just laws and effective policies; hold those who are responsible for implementation to account.

·         Unlock resources: allocate enough money in country, donor and foundation budgets, so that every girl and woman can access the information, contraception and safe abortion services she needs.




Q: How will SheDecides link with the other existing movements and initiatives that are already working in the area of sexual and reproductive rights, global health and gender equality?

Many organisations and individuals, in all parts of the world, have worked tirelessly for many years to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights. Their work remains essential and must continue. SheDecides is about energising and connecting these individuals, organisations and movements so that together we can amplify a bold and fundamental message that will lead to girls and women having the means to decide for themselves, and without question. 

As a broad umbrella, SheDecides magnifies the voice and the passion of these movements and support their messages to be heard louder and wider. Using the political capital that the movement has attracted, we will amplify their voices under the banner of SheDecides and work collectively until we have achieved a world that is better, stronger and safer.




Q: I want to help: How can I contribute?

You can contribute to the SheDecides movement in many ways, including by becoming a Friend of SheDecides and signing the manifesto here. Here you will find ideas about how you can contribute – as an individual, as an organisation or in a formal capacity. You can also donate to organisations affected by the Global Gag Rule through the crowdfunding platform here.




Q: Who manages the fundraising and where does the money go?

There are two types of fundraising under the banner of SheDecides. Governments and foundations have been increasing their financing for those organisations that have been affected by the Global Gag Rule and other US funding cuts and other pertinent issues in the SheDecides agenda, such as comprehensive sexuality education and access to safe abortion.  As of March 2018, a total of approximately €415 was raised. These donors have distributed these additional finances directly to these organisations, i.e. not through the SheDecides Support Unit.

Individuals have also been donating in the name of SheDecides through a crowdfunding mechanism operated by Rutgers. Immediately after the start of SheDecides in January 2017, Rutgers, a Dutch NGO whose core mission it is to promote the right to decide, set up a crowdfunding site here. In one year, about €500,000 was donated by individuals and small foundations. On 24 January 2018, Rutgers announced that all money raised in the first year of the initiative had been allocated to the Reproductive Health Network in Kenya.  See the press release here. Rutgers selects the beneficiaries of the public donations based on consultation with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and partners in the field. It is not possible for organisations affected by the Global Gag Rule or other US funding cuts to apply for funding directly through Rutgers, or through the SheDecides Support Unit.

The SheDecides crowdfunding site is still open for new donations!




Q: How much money was raised at the SheDecides conference on March 2nd?

A total of € 181 million (approx. US$ 200 million) was raised by governments, foundations and philanthropists at the SheDecides conference in March. Those who made commitments were: Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Slovenia, Sir Chris Hohn, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Around the Family Planning Summit held in London in early July, further substantial commitments were made by some of the same donors, broadly doubling these contributions to a total of around US$ 400 million. 


Q: My organisation was affected by the Global Gag Rule. Can I apply for some funding?

SheDecides is not a new funding mechanism. All of the funds pledged were or will be distributed through existing channels. That means that donors will increase their support to their grantees that will be affected by the Global Gag Rule, or affected by other cuts in US funding.  The SheDecides Support Unit does not distribute any funds. However, it will help create mechanisms to match organisations affected by the Global Gag Rule with prospective funders. Please ensure you have signed up your Organisation as a Friend to SheDecides and ticked the box to receive more information so you can stay informed.


Q: I want to hold an event to raise funds for SheDecides, how should I do it?

Please go ahead and do it! Toolkits and resources are being developed to help people who want to run SheDecides events – but in the meantime, if you’d like to run a SheDecides branded event, please get in touch with us here. If you’d like to hold a non-branded event, but would like to donate all proceeds to SheDecides, please do! Either way, we’d love to hear about it, so please share photos or recordings of your event if you have them, and we’d encourage you to share your event on social media or through other channels so others are inspired to do something themselves. Make sure you tag #SheDecides or @SheDecidesGFI in all your social media communications. Any of the much-needed funds that you raise can be send to the SheDecides crowdfunding site, managed by Rutgers, here.


Q: Who is The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)?

CIFF is an independent philanthropic organisation, headquartered in London with offices in Nairobi and New Delhi.  It works with a wide range of partners to transform the lives of poor and vulnerable children in developing countries.  Its areas of focus are: health, including adolescent sexual health, nutrition, education, child protection and climate change. Within its work on adolescent sexual health, it prioritises integrated sexual health services (including safe abortion), young voices, self-testing and self-medication. It was started in 2004 by Sir Chris Hohn and Jamie Cooper.  For details of CIFF's current grant portfolios, including allocations to adolescent sexual health, click here.