The drastic cuts to foreign aid proposed by the UK government would have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of millions of people, particularly women and girls living in poverty.
The proposed reduction in the UK’s foreign aid budget from .7% to .5% of Gross National Income equates to a loss of £4 billion from the 2020 assistance budget. While the cut is small in proportion to the UK’s overall budget, this significant funding shortfall would drastically undermine efforts to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality.
For example, in the coming year, (2021-22), funding from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office to supplies provided through the United Nations Population Fund would have averted 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 4.6 million unintended pregnancies, and 4.3 million unsafe abortion. This is no longer going to happen.
“The UK foreign aid cuts will have catastrophic and long-standing impacts on the world’s poorest people—in particular, women and girls,” said Catherine Kirk, Pathfinder International’s Executive Director, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, who is based in the UK. “This is at a time when countries’ health systems are in crisis due to COVID-19.”
The UK will convene the Group of Seven (G7) June 11-13, together with the governments of Australia, India, South Africa, and South Korea. The 2021 G7 Leaders’ Summit is a key influencing moment to demonstrate that urgent investment is needed in global health and sexual and reproductive health and rights, including contraceptive supplies, and to minimize the impact of the UK government’s proposed funding cuts. We call on the G7 leaders to prioritize these critical issues.