Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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NGO report finds UN gender equality goal out of reach

September 15, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality | Share this update

On September 15, 2023, Dutch NGO Plan International published a report titled "Goals Off Target: Accelerating the SDGs with girls and young women", which found that 85% of SDG gender equality indicators fell behind schedule for the 2030 SDG deadline.

The report was based on a sample of 26 countries. It highlighted the effects of ongoing conflict, conservative politics, and climate change in reversing progress on SDG #5.

The report found that:

  • Physical and sexual violence against girls and women increased in the majority of the sample countries;
  • The number of girls who fall victim to genital mutilation remains high despite progress in some countries; and
  • All countries failed to sufficiently implement legislation promoting gender equality.

The report called on the development community to make more determined and practical efforts to challenge harmful societal norms at all levels of society. It also noted that greater investments in women-led collective action and a clearer focus on local implementation could magnify the grassroots impact of the SDGs.

The report was published in anticipation of the UNGA SDG Summit, which is slated to take place on September 18 and 19 in New York, USA.

Press release - Plan International press release (in Dutch)Report - Report: Goals Off Target: Accelerating the SDGs with Girls and Young Women

Netherlands delivers second 2023 support package for Ukraine

July 4, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality, Global Health | Share this update

On July 4, 2023, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher reported the second support package for Ukraine in 2023. The Dutch government will provide another EUR119 million (US$127 million) for humanitarian assistance, recovery and reconstruction.

This support package was allocated from the government’s decision in December 2022 to earmark EUR2.5 billion (US$2.7 billion) to support Ukraine in 2023. In April 2023, the first support package of EUR274 million (US$294 million) was announced, which in part went towards non-lethal support to Ukraine’s armed forces.

This second support package of EUR119 million (US$127 million) focused on humanitarian assistance, recovery and reconstruction. Minister Schreinemacher outlined the following initiatives:

  • EUR52 million (US$56 million) will go to the European Investment Bank’s EU4U initiative for the recovery of digital and physical infrastructure and housing;
  • EUR25 million (US$27 million) for healthcare and SRHR through contributions towards the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents, UNAIDS, UNFPA, and the WHO;
  • EUR25 million (US$27 million) to support a partnership facility for businesses, knowledge institutions, and/or CSOs to contribute to the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine;
  • EUR10 million for in-kind support, including emergency aid, for instance, lifeboats and flat boats needed as a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam;
  • EUR6 million (US$6 million) for the recovery of water supply facilities via Dutch public drinking water companies; and
  • US$900,000 via the Dutch Human Rights Fund to local NGO projects to support Ukrainian human rights defenders.

EUR94 million (US$101 million) of the funding was allocated from the government’s general resources budget, and EUR25 million (US$27 million) was allocated from the Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation budget.

Schreinemacher also announced that top diplomat Roderick van Schreven had been appointed as the new Special Envoy to facilitate the Dutch business community’s involvement in the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Letter - Letter to House of Representatives (in Dutch)News article - Dutch Government News ArticleWeb Page - Dutch Government (in Dutch)

Netherlands reaffirms commitment to human rights, rule of law

July 1, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality | Share this update

On July 1, 2023, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher submitted a Policy Memorandum on Human Rights, Democracy, and the International Legal Order.

The note aimed to answer the question of how the Netherlands will contribute to the worldwide safeguarding of human rights, democratic rule of law, and international legal order in the current geopolitical context.

The memo listed three key objectives of the Netherlands:

  • Protecting and promoting respect for human rights, with a focus on women and girls, LGBTQI+ people, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression online and offline, and the protection of human rights defenders and civil society;
  • Combating democratic decline worldwide and strengthening the democratic rule of law; and
  • Promoting the development of the international legal order in line with the Dutch Constitution.

The Netherlands outlined the following actions toward achieving these objectives:

  • Linking the topics of human rights, democracy and the international legal order;
  • Investing in new and broader partnerships beyond traditionally like-minded countries and organizations;
  • Strengthening the organizations, institutions, structures, and instruments that protect human rights, democracy, and the international legal order. This action included examples such as updating existing international agreements and rules, and taking the initiative for new bilateral and multilateral treaties; and
  • Providing long-term support to allies on the front line of the global rights regression. Examples included the field of SRHR, women’s rights, and the equal rights of LGBTQ+ persons, as well as human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers to protect the basis of democratic rule of law.

The policy note closed with an annex outlining the Netherlands’ expected results, such as "fewer countries where sexual orientation and/or gender identity is punishable.” However, experts noted that without a baseline, it may be difficult to measure progress towards these results.

Government document - Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Dutch)

Netherlands co-hosts GFF US$800 milllion women’s health campaign

June 29, 2023 | Netherlands, Germany, Gender Equality, Global Health | Share this update

On June 29, 2023, the GFF announced that the Netherlands, Germany, Ivory Coast, and World Bank are co-hosting the ‘Deliver the Future’ campaign to raise US$800 million by the end of 2023 to invest in the health and rights of women, children, and adolescents in LICs.

According to the GFF more than 60 countries, including 35 out of 36 partner countries, are off track to meet the SDG health targets for maternal, newborn, and stillborn mortality by 2030, which could cost almost 8 million lives.

Donors have donated US$2 billion since 2015, which has allowed the GFF to unlock US$32 billion for women, children, and adolescent health. For example the GFF have provided more than 500 million women with access to modern family planning, and ensured 103 million women delivered their babies safely.

The additional investment of US$800 million was projected to help the organization reach another 250 million women, children, and adolescents.

Twitter - Global Financing Facility TweetWeb Page - Deliver the Future Campaign

Netherlands announces November 2023 Feminist Foreign Policy conference

June 29, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality | Share this update

On June 29, 2023, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared more information about the upcoming Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference, which the Netherlands will host on November 1-2, 2023.

The Ministry's event page confirmed that the Netherlands will first host a ministerial event on feminist foreign policy at the UN General Assembly in New York in September, followed by the Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference on November 1-2 in the World Forum in The Hague.

The conference announcement reflected the Netherlands' objective to shape and promote feminist foreign policy in domestic and global fora. In line with Dutch feminist foreign policy, the conference will be organized around the "4 Rs": rights, representation, resources, and reality check. Related to the resources theme, the event will highlight the need for additional funding for women’s rights organizations and movements.

The Ministry expected around 500 attendees from across the world, including policymakers, academics, journalists, CSOs, think tanks, and businesses. For those unable to attend the conference in person, the ministry shared that some of the sessions will be published online via the Ministry’s YouTube channel.

Web Page - Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference Event PageTwitter - Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Netherlands accepts motion to reverse 2023 development budget cuts

June 13, 2023 | Netherlands, Nutrition, Gender Equality, Climate | Share this update

On June 13, 2023, the Dutch House of Representatives accepted a motion to bring forward part of the 2027 and 2028 development budgets to reverse the development budget cuts for 2023.

On June 8, 2023, members of parliament belonging to three of the four coalition parties of the Dutch cabinet (ChristenUnie, D66, and CDA) submitted a motion to bring forward the financial buffer of the 2027-2028 development budgets to minimize 2023 development budget cuts via a ‘treasury move.’

On June 13, 2023, a majority of the House of Representatives accepted the motion, with 87 seats for versus 63 seats against. The fourth coalition party, that of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, voted against it. However, since three of the four coalition parties were in favor, spectators expected the Dutch cabinet will likely implement the motion.

CSOs including Oxfam and development association Partos applauded the vote for safeguarding activities relating to food and nutrition, climate, and humanitarian assistance. However, they urged the government to find a long-term solution to protect the development budget from future ODA reallocations for in-donor refugee costs.

Web Page - Voting results motion 36350-20 (in Dutch)Twitter - Partos (in Dutch)Opzij (in Dutch)

Netherlands releases new Africa Strategy

May 30, 2023 | Netherlands, Climate, Global Health, Nutrition, Gender Equality, Education | Share this update

On May 30, 2023, the Netherlands published its first continent-wide, ten-year Africa Strategy (2023-2032).

The strategy outlined short-, mid-, and longterm actions to promote the 54 countries’ equal economic development, reduced poverty, improved human rights, and limited irregular migration.

The strategy displayed the Netherlands’ ambition to strengthen and deepen its strategic relationship and partnership with African countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally through the EU. The strategy prioritized equitable and reciprocal cooperation based on mutual interests. Key themes included:

  • Promoting regional stability, mobility, and migration agreements;
  • Achieving the SDGs and AU 2063 Agenda; and
  • Increasing the prosperity and climate resilience of people and communities in Africa and Europe.

The Strategy positioned the EU as Africa’s most important trade partner and investor, and a major provider of development and humanitarian assistance. Accordingly, the strategy framed other countries’ expanding influence in Africa, such as China, Russia, and the Gulf States, as a key geopolitical and economic challenge. The strategy likewise attempted to position the Netherlands and EU as attractive partners for African countries to facilitate collaboration on key cross-border issues including migration, trade, energy transition, security, and food security.

Specifically, the Netherlands focused on good trade agreements and energy transition, presenting a model of cooperation in which African countries process raw materials before exporting them to the EU. The strategy touted the plan as a way to create jobs in Africa and to make the value chains of raw materials more sustainable.

The strategy also emphasized the importance of peace and security for African countries and their citizens as a means of preventing (cross-border) violent extremism. The Netherlands shared its aim to design effective, sustainable migration cooperation with African partners within the international and European legal frameworks. Additionally, the Netherlands shared goals to leverage this cooperation to increased food security, improved health and climate resilience, and invest in higher and vocational education.

While CSOs responded favorably to the strategy, they also expressed apprehension regarding its increased reliance on Dutch businesses. Similarly, several organizations questioned the Netherlands’ ability to realize its ambitions after the recently announced cuts of EUR3.4 billion (US$3.6 billion) to the Dutch development budget of over the following four years.

Government document - Dutch Africa Strategy 2023-2032 (in Dutch)News article - Dutch governmentLetter - Dutch government (in Dutch)

Netherlands decries Ugandan anti-LGBTQ+ law, suspends cooperation

May 29, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality | Share this update

On May 29, 2023, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which criminalizes same-sex relations and threatens those working on the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons.

In response, the Netherlands condemned the law and announced it would cease participation in law enforcement programs.

The Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental body of 42 member states that advances the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons, expressed grave concerns about the new law, which criminalizes same-sex relations with punishments including life imprisonment or death and threatens organizations and individuals working to protect LGBTQ+ rights. The Coalition released a statement noting that the law contributes to fear and persecution, which will negatively impact trade, public health, investment, tourism, and development in Uganda.

The Netherlands, a member of the Equal Rights Coalition, co-signed the statement. In addition, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher and Minister for Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra tweeted that they were appalled and disappointed by Uganda’s adoption of the law.

Schreinemacher wrote that the new law would have consequences for the Netherlands’ cooperation with Uganda. In the letter, Schreinemacher announced the Netherlands would cease participation in law enforcement programs and continue to actively support the protection of the LGBTQ+ community. The minister did not articulate specific consequences for other development cooperation programs in Uganda.

Dutch governmentTwitter - Minister for Foreign Trade and Development CooperationTwitter - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Netherlands signs SheDecides Comprehensive Sexuality Education statement

April 28, 2023 | Netherlands, Education, Gender Equality, Global Health | Share this update

On April 28, 2023, SheDecides, a global political movement that fights for bodily autonomy and SRHR for all, published a statement in Al Jazeera on the importance of CSE in building a gender equal world.

The signatories included ten ministers and 36 health and gender equality experts, four of whom were Dutch.

The statement highlighted that despite growing evidence that CSE helps reduce gender-based violence, unintended pregnancies, and HIV transmissions, not all governments are investing in CSE programs. Moreover, due to misinformation about CSE, decision-makers around the world have rolled back their support for related programs allowing harmful practices and beliefs, including gender-based discrimination, to flourish.

To achieve the SDGs for Health (SDG 3), Education (SDG 4), and Gender Equality (SDG 5), the statements called on all governments to commit to incorporating CSE in national curricula and invest in quality teacher training, and to engage more young people, parents, teachers, community leaders, and politicians to better understand the long-term benefits of CSE.

The statement was authored by the Prime Minister of Belgium, South Africa’s Minister of Social Development and the Executive Director of FEMNET and Chair of SheDecides Guiding Group. Among the 50 signatories were the Netherlands’ Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Dennis Wiersma, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher, former Minister, MP and Initiator of SheDecides Lilianne Ploumen, and Minister for Education, Culture, and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf.

Al JazeeraTwitter - Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Netherlands announces 2023 Feminist Foreign Policy events

April 17, 2023 | Netherlands, Gender Equality | Share this update

On April 17, 2023, at the EU Heads of Mission Meeting in the Hague, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra announced that the Netherlands will host two international events on Feminist Foreign Policy in 2023.

In his speech, Hoekstra covered the topics of EU support for Ukraine, the Netherlands’ support for Sweden to become a member of NATO, migration, and feminist foreign policy. Hoekstra mentioned that gender equality is a founding principle of the EU, and reiterated the Netherlands' May 2022 commitment to dismantling unequal power structures.

Hoekstra then announced that he is planning two feminist foreign policy events in 2023: a high-level event at the UN General Assembly in September 2023, and a follow-up international conference in The Hague.

Speech - Dutch GovernmentNews article - The Diplomatic Insight






US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.

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