The event was moderated by prominent Belgian figure, sexologist and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Goedele Liekens.
MEP Antonyia Parvanova was delighted to host the event and to welcome MEPs, their support staff and representatives of the NGO community among the 90 guests who attended this festive event. The speakers were Kate Gilmore, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA, Marleen Temmerman, Belgian Senator and future Director for Reproductive Health and research at the WHO, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary for the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Zimbabwe and guest speaker MK Dr. Rachel Addato, Member of the Israeli Knesset and gynaecologist.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda explained the difficulties faced by her and her 10 brothers and sisters growing up in Zimbabwe: “As the youngest of 11 children, the only reason why I am here is because I was able receive an education, and could access Family Planning.”
Senator Temmerman captured the huge importance of Family Planning, both at the global and the personal levels; and illustrated this with her account of Atieno, the first young woman she saw dying at childbirth in 1988 in Kenya, at the age of fifteen: “Like many other women she had no say in her own fate: no pills, no condoms and not even the strength to say no.”
Kate Gilmore then spoke about Family Planning and human dignity: “If today we took away all contraceptives from Europe, tell me that your lives and your dignity would not be affected,” and finished by saying: “Sex happens. Let’s make it safe.”
The final speaker, Rachel Addato, gave an insight into the challenges facing Israel’s population, explaining how Israel’s government is managing to protect the reproductive wellbeing of its most vulnerable women in a challenging multicultural context.