SheDecides was launched at the start of 2017 as a movement to support the rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have. SheDecides began with two words, then a one day conference, and has rapidly evolved into a growing global movement which is guided by the vision in the SheDecides manifesto:
A new normal where girls and women decide about their bodies, their lives, their futures. Without question.
SheDecides was created as an urgent response to US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement and dramatic expansion of the Global Gag Rule – also known as the Mexico City Policy – in January 2017. The rule prevents NGOs outside the US from receiving money from the US government if they provide safe abortions or information about abortion, and has devastating effects on women, girls and their communities around the world. Even before the Global Gag Rule was reinstated and expanded in 2017, many essential services were drastically underfunded in many countries. The situation is now far worse, especially for access to safe abortion and comprehensive sexuality education.
This attack on women's human rights prompted then Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, along with her counterparts in the governments of Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, to launch SheDecides as a global initiative to defend those rights. On 2 March 2017, these governments organised the first SheDecides pledging conference in Brussels. They were immediately joined by other governments, organisations and individuals. SheDecides became the rallying call for leaders and citizens alike to stand up as a matter of urgency to protect the rights, health, safety and livelihoods of millions of girls and women around the world.
SheDecides became the Rallying Call for leaders and citizens alike to stand up as a matter of urgency to Protect the rights, health, safety and livelihoods of millions of girls and women around the world
Outraged by one bad policy at the start, Friends of SheDecides soon recognised that there are bad laws and policies in many places – and that they are only one part of a broader series of barriers that must be overcome. Social norms in families, communities and societies at large are often not conducive to securing freedom and autonomy for women and girls. As the movement has grown these challenges have also become a central focus: to change social norms, laws and policies and unlock resources.
SheDecides movements are emerging at local levels around the world the globe, mobilising young people, organisations and politicians to take action in their regions and countries.