Human Rights

The United Kingdom’s Decision to Cut Foreign Aid is having Catastrophic Effects on Women’s Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health.

Cutting International Aid

In November 2020, the UK government announced that there would be a cut in the foreign aid budget. Insisting that this decision was based on an economic emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many NGOs expressed their concern on the effects of this. As stated by the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) “When funding stops, women and girls suffer”.

 

The UK once contributed £154m to contraceptives and reproductive health globally. This has now been cut to just £23m. The £130m now withheld, has been estimated to prevent ‘around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions’ (UNFPA, 2021). Moreover, it has forced early closures of many vital hubs and programs including Approaches in Complex and Challenging Environments for Sustainable SRHR (ACCESS) a program that provided essential research on the barriers to accessing sexual health services. 

 

Sexual health services not only provide essential health care for women but also play an integral role in establishing gender equality and promoting women’s rights. Access to sexual health services allows women to make an autonomous decision over their bodies and sexuality. These cuts to foreign aid hinder this progress and may begin to place women in precarious positions regarding their reproductive rights. 

 

As the foreign aid cuts continue to cause detrimental effects across the globe, there has been little coverage or media outrage on the effects on women’s rights specifically. However, NGOs continue to challenge the UK’s decision. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has since begun legal action since the UK Foreign Office informed that they were terminating project funding. 

 

As has been discussed widely in the Rights of Equality October Newsletter, reproductive rights and access to safe abortion are not only crucial for the general wellbeing and health of women but also for establishing what we should expect from society. There are currently many organizations calling for collective action and collecting evidence of the effects of cutting international aid has had on women and their access to sexual health services. 

Please see below for just a few petitions and calls for change. 

Petitions: 

Action Aid- Don’t Cut Foreign Aid 

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