Sat, 9 December 2023

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
How we can connect digital nomads Partner content
By Christina Georgaki
Press releases

Government Accused Of Causing 'Irrevocable Harm" To Millions Of Marginalised Women And Girls With Foreign Aid Cut

4 min read

The Government's vote to make cuts to foreign aid, will “hit the world’s most vulnerable communities with deadly force,” a leading aid charity has said.

The UK is accused of stepping away from its commitments at a time of a humanitarian crisis, which could lead to far more challenging circumstances for women and girls living in poorer communities.

After MPs voted by 333 to 298 to cut foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income on Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government will move forward with the reduction in aid spending, however the government does remain committed to the 0.7% target when the country is at a better place economically. 

Former Prime Minister Theresa May said that “It’s about what cuts to funding mean, that fewer girls will be educated, more girls and boys will become slaves, more children will go hungry and more of the poorest people in the world will die.”

Although Sunak suggested that the 0.7% could return in four to five years time, May was unconvinced in terms of the tests being met in five years.

Labour leader Keir Stramer said that the motion being proposed by the government was “deliberately slippery” as he believes that the new 0.5% level would carry on indefinitely. 

Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UNFPA – the United Nations agency for reproductive health –  said cuts will be “devastating” for women and girls. 

“With the now-withdrawn £130 million, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership would have helped prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions,” she added. 

Matt Jackson, London's director of UNFPA said he was disappointed in the cut from 0.7%.

"This is a UN target to meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world," Jackson said.

"But this prolonged reduction in support means that millions will lose life-saving maternal health care, access to contraceptives and the resources needed to end female genital mutiliation and child marriage.

"It means we'll see millions more unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions every year.

"We hope that the UK will be able to return to the 0.7% commitment as soon as possible. And that in the meantime the UK ensures that the needs of women and girls are prioritised."

James Harcourt, MSI Reproductive Choices’ Vice President of Partnerships and Philanthropy, suggested that the Government decision not to abide by the 0.7% foreign aid commitment they made in their 2019 Tory manifesto is going to “seal the fate of clinics and medical teams providing life-changing safe abortion and contraception services in fragile and climate-change affected states, putting women’s lives and futures at risk and permanently undoing a decade of progress”. 

Harcourt believed that cuts to foreign aid, during a time of a deadly pandemic will undo all aid previously sent by the UK, which has helped pull people back from the verge of famine, saved children dying from malnutrition, these cuts will destroy the help countless people depend on. 

He also felt that aid cuts would mean women and girls will see that their life chances reduced as instead of being given an opportunity to go to school, there will be girls who become pregnant before they are ready, with only the availability of unsafe abortions. 

“It costs less than 2 pence per day to protect a young woman from an unintended pregnancy, yet instead of honouring their manifesto commitment to spend just 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international development, today’s vote will rob millions of girls of their chance to complete their education and force many into an endless cycle of poverty,” Harcourt added.  

The government said it is still spending £10 billion on foreign aid this year, however it is clearly up for debate whether this will be enough to aid those in poorer communities.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Bahar Dag - Labour Has Accused Boris Johnson Of “Blatant Hypocrisy” Over Global Education


Foreign affairs