The UK government has made a brilliant new aid commitment to improve women and girls' access to contraception and maternal healthcare around the world.
The £425 million funding commitment, from the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), will go to UNFPA Supplies — the UN Population Fund's (UNFPA) flagship fund and the world's largest provider of family planning services — which reaches over 20 million women and girls each year in the poorest countries, and in fragile and conflict settings.
That healthcare is vital to helping prevent unwanted pregnancies and death in childbirth, in turn improving the life chances and wellbeing of women and girls, and reducing poverty.
It comes after concerted campaigning efforts from Global Citizens – in total you've taken over 200,000 actions in support of the #SheCanPlan family planning campaign, including signing a petition to world leaders, tweeting at the UK government, attending Global Citizen events, and sharing your personal messages.
The #SheCanPlan petition was handed over to the UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Jonathan Allen, backstage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City in September.
At the #GlobalCitizenFestival, @GlblCtzn's @leticia_pfeffer and @UNFPA_Supplies handed over our message to @UKUN_NewYork@AmbassadorAllen: over 92.5K actions have been taken by Global Citizens asking @DFID_UK to attend the #NairobiSummit and pledge funds to ensure #SheCanPlan! pic.twitter.com/vbmExfwZUF— Global Citizen Impact (@GlblCtznImpact) October 1, 2019
Then over 4,630 Global Citizens tweeted at the UK government to continue piling on the pressure, and ensure the government paired words with concrete action.
About 295,000 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth in 2017 — which is over 800 a day, according to the World Health Organisation, and 94% of these deaths happened in low and middle income countries.
In fact, complications in pregnancy and childbirth remain the leading cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 worldwide.
The UK aid funding commitment was made on Monday evening by Baroness Sugg OBE, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Department for International Development, at a parliamentary event on the issue of family planning.
Baroness Sugg thanked Global Citizens for their hard work on the campaign.
"I want to say thank you to all the Global Citizens for supporting the UNFPA Supplies cause!" she said. “Thank you for everything you're doing and keep going, Global Citizen is such an incredible organisation at channelling people to take action.”
Global Citizen action taker Ayan Habane was there to meet with Baroness Sugg — and spoke powerfully about why this issue matters so much to her.
"Female and reproductive health is a basic right but it's one that so many women still don't have," she said. "That's why it's important for Global Citizens like myself to be at the forefront of change."
The pledge is part of a larger package of £600 million in UK aid funding — announced at the UN General Assembly in September — to be spent over the next five years on sexual and reproductive health.
Over that time the funding will:
- Give over 20 million women and girls access to family planning per year.
- Prevent 5 million unintended pregnancies per year.
- Prevent at least 1.5 million potentially-fatal unsafe abortions per year.
- Save an estimated 9,000 lives per year from complications in pregnancy or childbirth.
The announcement and event in parliament comes one week before high-level political summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
From Nov. 12-14, 2019, leaders from around the world will convene in Nairobi to mark the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and to mobilise the political will and financial commitments urgently needed to address the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of women and girls everywhere.
It will be a key opportunity for world leaders to pledge further support towards upholding these rights and making progress on the Global Goals. Join the movement by taking action with us here to call on world leaders to strongly invest in women's health and gender equality, and help achieve a world where She Is Equal.