One year anniversary of SheDecides

Location: Washington DC

Date: 1 March  

In Washington DC a major event was held at the Embassy of Denmark in the United States.  The event was co-hosted by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Guttmacher Institute, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), and Population Action International (PAI).  With over 170 in attendance the event brought together a cross-section of people who support SheDecides including US activists, ambassadors from Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, and others. 

Danish Ambassador Lars G. Lose set the time of the celebration in his opening remarks when he said, “The Danish government firmly believes that girls and women decide over their bodies, their lives and their futures. With rights for everyone. With education for everyone. With healthcare to everyone. We are all better off.”  He added, “What started as a pledging conference in Brussels one year ago has turned into a global, political movement.”

SheDecides Champion Julia Bunting shared the podium with Ambassador Lose and highlighted the benefits to women, communities and the world when women’s rights and development – particularly bodily autonomy – are prioritised. 

The event has highlighted by a presentation by spoken word artist Christine Hayes and two interactive breakout sessions.  One was hosted by Serra Sippel of CHANGE and Achieng Akumu, of PPFA and addressed the future of SheDecides.  Sippel said, “That’s why a movement like SheDecides is so important.  As the US moves backwards with failed policies, SheDecides steps forward by rallying donors, building solidarity and mobilising for action for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.”   Akumu added that sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to not only human rights, but economic development.

The other session was hosted by Ann Starrs of the Guttmacher Institute and Suzanne Ehlers of PAI and focused on “Five things we learned about SheDecides.” Starrs and Ehlers began by mentioning that while SheDecides was catalyzed by the Global Gag Rule the framing is now broader, and SheDecides is uniquely bold and assertive in using the rights of women and girls as its central frame. They concluded by observing that SheDecides offers an unprecedented and invaluable platform for grassroots mobilization around sexual and reproductive health and rights globally – an opportunity our community has not had before.