Oxfam condemns US defunding of UN agency focusing on reproductive health and rights of women and girls

April 11, 2017

Oxfam strongly condemns the decision by the US Government this week to withhold funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The decision puts women’s lives at risk and will deny thousands of women their right to comprehensive healthcare. This decision is part of a pattern of action that seriously undermines the health and human rights of women and girls.

The US Government has taken the decision to de-fund the UNFPA this week, whose work is focused on promoting the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, which is essential to combat preventable deaths and disabilities. In 2015 the US contributed 75 million USD to the fund, making it the fourth largest donor. In recent years US funding has in particular been used to reduce gender based violence and maternal mortality in conflict and humanitarian settings such as Iraq, Nepal, Syria and Yemen.

The decision comes after the US Government reenacted the Global Gag Rule in January, which restricts US funding to non-US NGOs that provide abortion services, counselling or information. The affects of this policy alone are expected to see a drop in $9.458 billion in global health funding, including for maternal health, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and more.

The recent announcement by the Government of Canada to fund 650 million towards sexual and reproductive health and rights over three years, as well as a commitment of 20 million to the She Decides fund, set up in response to the Global Gag Rule, are welcome. In a climate of continued threats to the provision of these services and to women’s rights Oxfam hopes to see the Government of Canada ensure these funds are deployed rapidly and reach the most marginalized women and girls.

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