Join W4GF in signing the SheDecides Manifesto here
As women in implementing countries improve and amplify their advocacy it is important to critically assess and understand the overall landscape of what is being funded, where and by whom and where gaps remain. Whilst W4GF has made tremendous gains in ensuring that gender equality and human rights are a top-line strategic key objective of the Global Fund it is also imperative that W4GF advocates maintain larger perspective of how the Global Fund fits into ‘the big picture’. This is especially important as some donor governments such as the United States of America (USA) (the largest bi-lateral supporter in the global response to HIV) may drastically cut its level of support under the Trump administration. Current proposals before Congress propose a $1 billion cut to PEPFAR next year – see a recent article titled The Global Fund and PEPFAR: Complementary, Successful, and Under Threat. In addition, with the reintroduction of the Mexico City Policy – the USA is back peddling from previous efforts to safeguard fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have. According to Health Gap – This could undo years of progress in the HIV response. This works against achieving gender equality, achieving Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
SheDecides is a global movement, launched at the start of 2017, to support the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have. This includes having access to modern contraception, to sexual and relationship literacy and safe abortion.
Initiated by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, SheDecides responded to US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule in January 2017. Her call for action immediately mobilised other progressive and feminist governments. The Global Gag Rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy (and now re-named by the US government), forces non-US NGOs to choose between receiving U.S. global health assistance and providing the full range of care that women need. In order to receive US funds, providers must declare that they will not give information and referrals for abortion or providing abortion care, even with their own non-U.S. funds. Read more on this here.
To find out more about how to actively engage click here
The Global Gag Rule
At the 1984 United Nations Conference on Population in Mexico City the Reagan Administration announced the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule for those who oppose it. This states that ‘no US family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to: perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the life of the woman, rape or incest; provide counselling and referral for abortion; lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country. Non-compliance results in loss of funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) (Population Action International). When the Clinton Administration was elected into office in 1993, the removal of this policy took priority. On the January 22, 2001, on his first day of office, President Bush reinstated the Global Gag Rule. President Obama rescinded this on January 23 2009.
The Global Gag Rule violates reproductive health and rights of many vulnerable groups, especially young women and girls living in developing countries. These harmful policies also restrict open and important conversations between many women and health care providers. Women are now too afraid to ask about where and how they can access safe abortions services and hence sometimes resort to unsafe abortions at the cost of their own lives.