Embassy of Belgium and UN in China celebrate 30 years of Belgium-China maternal health collaboration
02 November 2022
BEIJING, China, 2 November 2022 – Yesterday, the Embassy of Belgium in China and the United Nations (UN) in China hosted a joint event at the UN Compound to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Belgium-China cooperation in maternal health and women’s rights. Both parties used the occasion to emphasize that universal access to healthcare for women and the rights over their own bodies are central to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), requiring partnerships between all countries.
Over 100 people from national and international organizations in China and Belgium, academia, diplomatic missions in Beijing, and the public and private sectors attended the event in person and online. The event featured six experts from Belgium and China who shared their research and practices in promoting women’s health and rights, covering topics of maternal health care, HIV prevention, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health services provision during emergencies, and women’s empowerment.
During his speech, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, highlighted past successes and remaining challenges: “Over the last century, there have been remarkable achievements concerning women’s social, economic, political, and cultural progress. However, in many parts of the world, there are girls and women who still lack the knowledge and tools to help them understand their rights and take charge of their bodies. Here, it is clear that in achieving SDG 3 and SDG 5, we will need to see political will and public policy working in tandem with new partnerships, including public-private partnerships, to ensure that we leave no one behind.”
During his speech, H.E. Dr. Jan Hoogmartens, Belgian Ambassador to China and Mongolia, pointed out the following statement: “Whenever a conflict or crisis occurs, women are vulnerable. We are still far from a world free of forced marriages, child pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexual violence, discrimination, and gender stereotypes. It is important to set an example and demonstrate that a gender-equal world is a better world for all of us. We cannot waste half of the population on our planet.”
Belgium has listed sexual and reproductive health and rights as one of its global health priorities . It has been at the forefront of SheDecides, a global movement calling on action for a world where every woman, girl, and young person, in all their diversity, can decide what to do with their bodies, lives and future. As highlighted during the event, Belgium and China have also achieved a fruitful partnership in sexual and reproductive health and rights over the past three decades.
The International Centre for Reproductive Health, established by the Belgian gynecologist and Professor Marleen Temmerman at Ghent University in 1994, is one of the largest academic units in Europe in the field of sexual and reproductive health. It has been active in China for over 30 years and developed a network of collaborators across 30 Chinese provinces including universities, research institutes and healthcare institutions. The collaboration has been furthered through the establishment of a Joint Laboratory for Global Health between universities of the two countries toward scientific research and technological innovation on global health .
During the event, attendees recognized both the achievements and disparities in terms of access to maternal healthcare along with the remaining gaps in achieving gender equality. The event further served to emphasize the need for integrated and gender-responsive public health approaches toward ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.
 WHO contributors web page, “A champion of good donorship”: https://www.who.int/about/funding/contributors/belgium.
 ICRH website, “Joint Laboratory for Global Health between Ghent University and Hebei Medical University”: https://www.icrhb.org/en/news/joint-laboratory-for-global-health-between-ghent-university-and-hebei-medical-university.
For more information, please contact:
Johan Van hove, Public Diplomacy Counsellor, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in China
Email: email@example.com, Phone: 186 1115 4031, WeChat id: johanvanhove
Shujun Liu, Communications Analyst, UNFPA China
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 010-6532 0506