Seminar on SRHR and Stigmatization – Be Cause Belgian Platform for International Health

Posted by Kimberley Meijers on October 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Registration deadline: 4 November 2016.

You are kindly invited to the seminar on “Improving our understanding of the impact of stigma on the right to sexual and reproductive health”. The seminar is an initiative of the Be-cause Health Wroking Group on SRHR in collaboration with BTC and will take place at BTC-Espace Jacqmotte on the 10th of November 2016.

More detailed information can be found at the following weblink, where you can also register: .

Seminar participants are also invited to the opening of the exhibition “Body Mapping” (see Announcement Exhibition Body Mapping in attachment)

Locatie: BTC, Espace Jacqmotte, rue Haute – Hoogstraat 139, 1000 Brussels

Worldwide, stigma is  a major cause of discrimination and exclusion, refraining large groups of people from enjoying their right to “the highest attainable standard of health”. Stigma is a process of devaluing individuals and communities based on real or perceived  characteristics that distinguish them from other members of society. These characteristics can be attributed to differences such as, among others, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, behaviour, disability or other health conditions. Stigma can, apart from causing direct physical and mental suffering, affect people’s self-esteem, disrupt family relationships and impair their social functioning.

Stigma is a powerful, though often invisible,  barrier that keeps people from seeking services that can improve their health or even save their lives. Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is one of the sub-areas in health where the impact of stigma cannot be neglected. Stigma and discrimination remain the hallmark of the HIV and AIDS response in the post-2015 era. Stigma surrounding vulnerable – and often criminalised – populations – such as sex workers, men having sex with men or injecting drug users – discourages them to test for HIV or other STIs, to seek care, to disclose their status to health providers or to adhere to treatment. Stigma surrounding young people’s sexual behaviour and sexuality hampers their access to appropriate information and services. For many women, seeking family planning services is a stigmatising act. Stigma is also a major contributor to social, medical and legal marginalisation of abortion and abortion services. The strong stigma surrounding infertility probably explains why this issue remains largely unattended in the global health debate.

This seminar is meant to improve our understanding of the impact of stigma on the sexual and reproductive health of vulnerable populations who often lack the power to raise their voice and claim their rights, and to pave the way for future reflection on how best to address stigma in our interventions within, but also outside, the health care sectors.

Preliminary Programme (Working titles)

  • 09:00-09:30: Arrival and registration
  • 09:30-09:45: Welcome & Introduction : Why looking at stigma? – Marleen Bosmans, Expert SRHR-HIV, BTC Brussels
  • 09:45-10:00: The Belgian policy towards SRHR in development cooperation – Alexander De Croo, Minister of Development Cooperation
  • 10:00-10:25: Exploring HIV-related stigma and discrimination among Sub-Saharan African migrants living in Flanders – Lazare Manirankunda, Institute for Tropical Medicine, Belgium
  • 10:25-10:50: HIV/STI prevention for MSM in stigmatized contexts (presentation in French) – Jérôme André, HF Prévention, France
  • 10:50-11:05: Coffee break
  • 11:05-11:30: Stigma surrounding young people’s sexuality – Sara De Meyer and Kristien Michielsen, ICRH-UGhent, Belgium
  • 11:30-11:55: Addressing stigma surrounding abortion – Abel Kader Avonnon, IPPF Africa Region, Benin
  • 11:55-12:20: Stigma and infertility – Jan Goossens, The Walking Egg, Belgium
  • 12:20-12:30: Closure
  • 12:30-13:00: Lunch
  • 13:00-14:00: All participants are kindly invited to the opening of the Exhibition “HIV Body Mapping”, an initiative of the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp in the main hall of BTC.

Moderator: Dirk Van Braeckel, ICRH/UGhent – Chairperson of the Be-cause Health Working Group on SRHR.

The working languages are English and French. Translation facilities are not provided.

Registration is free but obligatory. Use this form to register at the latest by 4 November.

The seminar is a joint initiative of the Be-cause Health Working Group SRHR and BTC, the Belgian Development Agency.