When President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which blocks all international organizations who perform or provide information about abortions from receiving U.S. aid (even when that money is not used to fund abortions), he left a large gap in global efforts to fund women's reproductive health care initiatives. Thankfully, dozens of countries and philanthropic organizations have stepped in to help fill that gap. Through She Decides, dozens of countries pledged nearly $200 million for international family planning services at a one-day fundraising conference organized by Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and The Netherlands.
Shortly after Trump moved to reinstate the Mexico City policy just days after taking office in January, one Dutch minister launched She Decides, a global fundraising initiative aimed at raising money for the international organizations Trump's executive order threatens most. Almost immediately Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen had secured a 10 million-euro donation from the Dutch government along with matching donations coming from Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
Additional donations came in from other nations and philanthropic foundations during the She Decides one-day conference Thursday. Canada, for example, pledged up to $20 million in funding contraceptives, access to post-abortion care, family planning, and sex education.
"I am deeply moved by the support voiced by so many countries, organizations and individuals for She Decides," Ploumen said in a statement released Thursday. "It is a very powerful signal to the rest of the world that the fundamental right of women and girls to decide over their own lives must be respected."
According to Belgian Deputy Premier Alexander De Croo, who hosted the conference, other major donors included the Bill Gates Foundation with a $20 million donation and an anonymous donor, who pledged $50 million.
"Today's Brussels International Conference is a promising start for the global movement in favor of women's rights that She Decides aims to be," De Croo said. "The broad backing of She Decides will uplift millions of girls and women fighting their rights around the world. And this is only the beginning."
It is believed that Trump's decision to reinstate the Mexico City policy will lead to a $600 million shortfall in funding for groups working on sexual and reproductive health initiatives in developing countries over the course of the next four years.
"Millions of the most vulnerable women in the world are at risk of losing access to contraception, information and health services," Denmark's Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs said in a statement released Thursday. "Therefore, the broad support shown today will change lives and lift the fight for women's rights all over the world. When we invest in women, everybody wins. ... Investing in women's rights is not only the right thing to do, it's a rational thing to do."