This Is How Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts Will Hurt Women and Girls Around the World
If passed, the budget could cost women their lives.
The Trump administration released its proposed budget plan for 2018, entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”. But after reading through the proposal, one begins to wonder exactly what part of America will be made great by the drastic cuts to education, health, agriculture, nutrition assistance programs, and student loans programs.
Many of the proposed cuts will have serious implications and even life-threatening consequences for women both in the US and abroad.
If passed, the 2018 budget will not just cut but completely dismantle organizations and aids programs that provide support for women around the world.
These are key areas in which women will suffer if proposed cuts are implemented.
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Foreign health aid is a general term that refers to US foreign aid that benefits the health and wellness of people around the world. Health aid is allocated for vaccinations, reproductive health services, HIV/AIDs treatment, and health education, just to name a few.
Foreign health aid has provided life-saving services to women and girls on an international scale; and budget cuts will strip $2.2 billion from foreign aid services, which will have a devestating impact on the health of women and girls around the world.
The programs facing the most severe defunding proposals are those which address reproductive and menstrual health. And, under Trump’s expanded Mexico City Policy, commonly known as the “global gag rule”, not only are cuts being made to international organizations linked to abortion services, they also threaten health care services for Zika, malaria, and HIV.
Uganda’s lack of access to quality medical care contributes to an extremely high maternal mortality rate, mostly caused by unsafe abortions; which is a leading cause of maternal death. Access to injectable contraceptives, made possible with US funds, prevented 170,700 unsafe abortions in Uganda in 2016, saving the lives of thousands of women and girls.
“[Funding cuts] will have a pretty dramatic impact,” she said. “Even before the Mexico City policy, there was not enough funding to provide these services, and now this chasm has opened.”
And Uganda will not be the only nation whose women suffer as a result of Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Aid workers in Malawi are extremely concerned that cuts will prevent women and girls from accessing contraceptives, meaning thousands of women will die pursuing dangerous back alley abortions, as abortion is illegal in Malawi.
Proponents of the global gag rule advocate that it will decrease abortion rates by cutting funding for abortion service programs. But by limiting access to family planning services, abortions numbers will increase by 591,000 cases every year and cause 2,800 more maternal deaths.
"They are giving a death sentence to our women in this part of the world," Chisale Mhango, an obstetrician in Malawi, told CNN.
The impact on women’s education stems from cuts to foreign health aid. Without access to contraceptives, woman and girls will be unable to prevent unintended pregnancies, forcing many to drop out of school.
This is especially detrimental to adolescent girls who are forced to terminate their education due to an unplanned pregnancy, which could be the result of rape or inadequate child marriage laws.
Denying women and girls an access to education not only affects their own futures, but also has negative impacts on the development and economy of a nation.
Since 1974, USAID has funded programs in 80 countries that support education, health, and equality for women and girls.
One of the most influential impacts USAID had on girls education was in Afghanistan. In 2001, women were not permitted to attend school per Taliban laws. Since then, USAID has allowed 3 million girls access to primary and secondary schools and 62,000 women opportunities to attend Afghan universities.
Despite the fact that most of the world’s small farmers are women, only 2% of the world’s landowners are women, a number that could shrink even further if the US government cuts the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 21% as proposed.
Additionally, cuts to USAID that affect the health of women across the globe could prevent female farmers from receiving training and loans that allow their farms to flourish. USAID funds programs on an international scale through Global Hunger and Food Security initiative such as Feed the Future, The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index, and The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development Fellowship Program.
These programs not only host seminars and teach women in agriculture about leadership and productivity, they also ensure that female farmers are paid for their work and have resources to begin their own farms. By working towards gender equality in agriculture, the USDA and USAID are helping reduce global poverty and food insecurity.
Cuts to the USDA hurt women, which hurts the world as a result. If women were given equal access to agricultural opportunities — by say, not cutting USDA funding — they could increase food production by 20-30%, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Program.
Cuts to foreign food aid will also threaten the lives of women and children across the globe.
In addition to cutting the food aid budget from $3.5 billion to $1.5 billion, the budget proposes cutting refugee assistance by 20%. And with women and girls making up an estimated 50% of any refugee population, according to UN Refugee Agency, these cuts could mean a death sentence for displaced women around the world.
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