DSW in BrusselsAs part of the celebration’s of DSW’s 25th birthday in 2016, we are presenting the stories of the people and offices that work for DSW. Here, Cecile Vernant, the Head of EU Advocacy for DSW in Brussels, speaks about the work DSW does in Europe – and celebrates the Brussels’ office own, very special birthday!

Sweet Sixteen, or when you realise that you can’t claim to be the new kid on the block but still feel at the prime of your youth.

Early on in its existence, DSW decided to have a presence at EU level to advocate for our issues. What started as a one-person show, DSW in Brussels became a well-established office with advocacy, communications, partners’ engagement. We have matured into a a long-standing member of Brussels-based networks, a usual suspect of the EU events, mastering EU budget procedures, knowing all the tricks of the European Parliament and EuropeAid websites, venturing in niche issues and becoming an expert on EU acronyms even unknown to most development specialists.

DSW in Brussels – advocating in front of the EU institutions

DSW in Brussels

DSW in Brussels grew out of the passion of young professionals, former colleagues, many of which remain part of the broader development community. Although the team has changed, and we have even moved to bigger offices recently, the original impetus remains: a bit idealist, EU enthusiast, eager to learn and work with partners and colleagues from various background, passionate about the right to health, to freely exert your right to dispose of your body, believer in youth and its potential for sustainable development, driven by the desire to make a difference at a systematic level.

The task is enormous, almost impossible in the gloomy European context: making sure the EU is the leader in policies and funding for sexual and health and rights, health, youth empowerment.

DSW in Brussels – fighting for global health

But like a 16 year old, we have learned to fight one word at a time in obscure policy documents, one change in complex budget lines, and can proudly show our achievements: increases in the EU budget, renewed commitments from the European Parliament and Council, and, crucially, more supportive EU policies for gender equality, SRHR and the fight against diseases of poverty.

We have affirmed our personality, embraced our style. We are not afraid of trying new ways to achieve our goals.

We’re no longer the new kids on , and we intend to stay – the rain does not bother us anyway.

So Happy birthday to DSW in Brussels: as you grow up, make sure to keep this spirit. if you’re in town this week for the European Week of Action for Girls, join our birthday part on Wednesday, October 12!

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