Belgium is to invest an additional €43 million in the years to come in the field of rights for women across the world, federal minister for development cooperation Alexander De Croo announced at the weekend. De Croo (photo) was on a visit to South Africa, and took the stage at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg to make the announcement, leading the crowd in a chant of “She is equal”.
Last year De Croo launched a campaign with international ambitions titled She Decides, as a reaction to a decision by the then-new Trump administration to withdraw federal funding from development organisations who counselled family planning. The aim: to raise $500 million (€440 million) in international financing for gender equality.
Addressing the 70,000 crowd in the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, De Croo announced: “We started this in Brussels, and today we have achieved our goal. Thanks to your collective voice, your actions and your commitment, we have exceeded the sum of $500 million,” he said.
Global Citizen, the group, aims to raise one billion dollars for the fight against poverty in the world. Compere of the show Trevor Noah, the Soweto-born presenter of the Daily Show, told the crowd that 53% of the one billion dollars target had already been raised.
Of the Belgian total, €30.5 million is earmarked for bilateral programmes over the next six years, concentrating on reproductive rights, while €12.4 million will go to the United Nations funds UNFPA and Unicef for the battle against child marriages and for better access to contraceptives.
Dressed casually in a blue suit and festival T-shirt, De Croo not only led the crowd in chant, but boasted that he had met Naomi Campbell backstage. The model was present along with stars like Beyoncé, her husband rapper Jay Z, and musician Pharell Williams.