SheDecides was launched at the start of 2017 as a movement to support the 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. SheDecides began with two words, then a one day conference, and has rapidly evolved into a growing global movement which is guided by the vision in the SheDecides manifesto:
A new normal where girls and women decide about their bodies, their lives, their futures. Without question.
SheDecides was created as an urgent response to US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement and dramatic expansion of the Global Gag Rule – also known as the Mexico City Policy – in January 2017. This policy meant the loss of millions of dollars in US funding for NGOs in foreign countries if they provided any abortion services or abortion advocacy.
This attack on women's human rights prompted then Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, along with her counterparts in the governments of Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, to launch SheDecides as a global initiative to defend those rights. On 2 March 2017, these governments organised the first SheDecides pledging conference in Brussels. They were immediately joined by other governments, organisations and individuals. SheDecides became the rallying call for leaders and citizens alike to stand up as a matter of urgency to protect the rights, health, safety and livelihoods of millions of girls and women around the world.
SheDecides became the Rallying Call for leaders and citizens alike to stand up as a matter of urgency to Protect the rights, health, safety and livelihoods of millions of girls and women around the world
Outraged by one bad policy at the start, Friends of SheDecides soon recognised that there are bad laws and policies in many places – and that they are only one part of a broader series of barriers that must be overcome so that women and girls have the right to decide about their bodies, lives and future. Social norms in families, communities and societies at large are often not conducive to securing freedom and autonomy for women and girls.
The global SheDecides movement is now a network of approximately 10,000 Friends who have signed the SheDecides Manifesto, with a wider network of 100,000 engaged in campaigns. There are currently core teams of movement organisers working in 27 countries around the world.
SheDecides organisers are Standing Up, Speaking Out on diverse areas of bodily autonomy, including but not limited to work on:
- Bodily autonomy and human rights
- Child marriage
- Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting
- Feminist leadership, activism and political representation
- Gender-Based Violence
- LGBTQIA+ rights
- Mental health and bodily autonomy
- Menstruation stigma / period poverty
- Racial justice and bodily autonomy
- Sex workers’ rights
- Sexual harassment and abuse
- Sexual pleasure
- Youth leadership, activism and political representation