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International Planned Parenthood Federation poised to launch legal challenge against UK government’s development assistance budget cuts

The NGO International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has alerted the UK government that it plans to call for an urgent judicial review of the UK’s government’s decision to stop funding IPPF, arguing that the decision to cut the development assistance budget from providing 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% without changing the legislation on 0.7% is unlawful.

The UK government had committed to providing IPPF with £21 million (US$28 million) for their ACCESS program to support marginalized groups' access to sexual and reproductive health rights in low-income countries in 2021, but IPPF could potentially lose £72 million (US$96 million) if funding cuts are maintained over the next three years with catastrophic impacts predicted on women and girls. 

Dr. Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, noted that the decision to challenge the cuts was not taken lightly, and has been driven by the injustice of the decision on women and girls the organization serves.

News article - MSN

UK-led resolution on girls’ education endorsed by UN Human Rights Council

A UK-led resolution on committing states to do all they can to ensure girls get 12 years of education has been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution, also backed by the UAE is the first time the Council has endorsed a resolution on girls’ education and focuses on committing states to address and eliminate the barriers that girls face in accessing quality education or returning to school, including child marriage and the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, introduced the resolution and reiterated that girls’ education is a top priority for the UK government and noted that the G7 had committed to a series of key targets on increasing the number of girls accessing education.

Press release – UK government opening speech

Press release – UK government closing speech

Development priorities of Slovenian EU presidency will include education, gender equality, food security, health, and water

Ministers from Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from July 1-Dec. 31, 2021, briefed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the presidency’s priorities, including its focus on helping EU partner countries recover from the pandemic through focusing on education, gender equality, food security, health, and water. 

Dr. Stanislav Raščan, a State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told MEPs that the Slovenian presidency will continue promoting gender equality through all of the EU’s external actions, while also working to integrate water policy across external policies.

Slovenia’s Education, Science, and Sport Minister, Simona Kustec, told MEPs the presidency’s priorities on research include European partnerships, the European Research Area, international cooperation, and gender equality. 

Press release - European Parliament

Oxfam Spain launches paper with political recommendations ahead of Generation Equality Forum

With the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) for gender equality being held in France from June 30-July 2, 2021, Oxfam Intermón (the Spanish branch of Oxfam, an NGO which aims to end global poverty) and ‘L’Associacio de Drets Sexuals i Reproductius’ (a sexual and reproductive health and rights organization) launched a position paper with political recommendations for the Spanish government to assume a leadership role in fostering gender equality worldwide.

This paper underlined the need for Spain to improve political coherence and to allocate 30% of Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to the fight toward women's rights, 60% toward some projects that are especially "significant", and 6% toward sexual and reproductive health and rights programs. According to Oxfam Intermón, such measures are indispensable to effectively implement Spain’s feminist foreign policy announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Arancha González Laya in March 2021.

Despite Spain co-leading GEF’s Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Foreign Minister González Laya did not make any significant new financial announcements at GEF.

Position paper on GEF 2021 – Oxfam Intermón

Australia's Monash University starts phase 3 clinical trials for inhalable oxytocin with potential to eliminate thousands of maternal deaths in low-income countries

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Johnson & Johnson have jointly developed a form of oxytocin that does not require refrigeration and can be delivered through an inhaler.

Oxytocin is used to stop post-partum hemorrhages, a leading cause of global maternal mortality. This new form of inhalable oxytocin would be easier to distribute and less invasive than the commonly used injectable oxytocin, giving it great potential for maternal health projects in low-income countries.

The project is about to enter phase 3 clinical trials. Commercial production could still be several years away.

News report - ABC News

Netherlands announces new development partnerships for 2021

On July 14, 2021, the Dutch government published a list of its current strategic partnerships for development as of January 1, 2021, as part of the government’s policy framework, 'Strengthening Civil Society'.

The Dutch government selected 42 partnerships that are funded through the four funds of the policy framework: 'Power of Voices', 'Power of Women', 'Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Partnership Fund', and 'Women, Peace and Security'. The total budget made available for the four funds amounts to €1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion) between 2021 and 2025.

A list of organizations selected for support through the policy framework can be found here (in Dutch).

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

UK development assistance budget cut to last for years as parliamentarians vote to lock in cut

The UK government, in a surprise decision, allowed UK Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote on the government’s decision to cut its ODA budget, after many months of the government rejecting the need for a parliamentary vote on the issue. On July 13, 2021, UK parliamentarians voted to accept the government’s proposal to cut the official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of the country's gross national income to 0.5%.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who announced the cuts, offered parliamentarians two choices. The first was to override the government's decision and restore the ODA budget to 0.7% of national income by January 2022. The second was to support the government’s proposal to cut the ODA budget and agree that it will only be increased back to 0.7% when the national debt is falling and borrowing is no longer used for day-to-day spending. The government proposal won with a majority of 35 votes, with 25 Conservative MPs rebelling against the vote.

The government has noted that under its new criteria laid out in the parliamentary motion, the ODA budget could be back at 0.7% in a couple of years. However, Conservative rebel MPs argue that in reality, the new criteria would lock the UK out of spending 0.7% in the long term. Three former Prime Ministers from the Conservative Party condemned the decision, with John Major noted that it was a "stamp of little England, not global Britain".

News article - BBC news

News article - The Guardian

Philanthropists to provide US$125 million to fill funding gaps to key programs as result of UK government development assistance cuts

A group of philanthropists has committed £94 million (US$125 million) to cover key programs that have faced funding gaps as a result of the UK government’s decision to cut its development assistance budget. The philanthropists include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the ELMA Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation.

The funding will focus on helping projects tackling preventable diseases and providing family planning and sexual health services—all areas that have suffered as a result of the UK government’s decision to reduce its official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% in 2021 as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

News article - BBC

UK government to consult on new development strategy

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Affairs, Dominic Raab, announced in Parliament that the government will consult with external stakeholders on the creation of its new development strategy.  

Raab, who was speaking to members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the strategy is being actively worked on by the government and that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was engaging with a range of stakeholders including NGOs and international partners. The strategy is intended to guide all UK official development assistance spending.  

When pressed on the exact date when the new development strategy would be released, Raab responded that it will be in a matter of months, not years, but did not give more details.

News article - Devex

UK government supports new, industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce to harness global private finance for pandemic recovery

The UK government has given its support to a new industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce that seeks to expand private finance at the global level to ensure a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Impact investment is an approach through which investors seek both financial rewards and also positive environmental and social impacts from their investments.

The Taskforce, chaired by Nick Hurd—a Conservative Member of Parliament who was formerly the Minister for London—will develop a set of recommendations for Foreign and Development Ministers and the financial sector at the global level, and it will coordinate efforts at the G7, G20, and COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference). The Taskforce will explore recommendations around the:  

  • Potential global standards for measuring the social and environmental impacts of financial investments; and
  • Type of financial instruments/tools that are best suited to raise capital for socially impactful investments in climate, health, or education.

The Taskforce will meet for the first time in August 2021.

Press release - UK government

Gender-based violence costs EU US$441.0 billion yearly, finds European Institute for Gender Equality

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) will publish a study on the cost of gender-based violence (GBV) in August of 2021. GBV is estimated to cost €366.0 billion (US$441.0 billion) per year in the EU, with the cost of violence against women equaling 79% of this cost.

Supporting people who experience this violence is not enough—the EU needs to invest in actions and structures that prevent the violence and protect victims and survivors, said EIGE Director Carlien Scheele.

The study calculated the costs of GBV through the following categories:

  • Physical and emotional impact (56%);
  • Criminal justice services (21%); and
  • Lost economic input (14%).

Other relevant costs include civil justice services (child custody proceedings, divorces, etc.), housing assistance, and child protection.

To calculate data accurately, EU countries need detailed information from public services (including the justice sector and law enforcement), as well as data from surveys because GBV is under-reported. Detailed data collection is required under the Istanbul Convention, which all EU members signed (21 ratified). 

Press release - EIGE

UK and Germany announce joint declaration to work together to promote global security, democracy, health, education, gender equality, and fight climate emergency

The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, and the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, announced a joint declaration setting out a series of global issues where the two countries will work together.

The declaration identified rules-based international order, security, and defense as key areas for close cooperation. The document also included other development issues as important to work together on, including global health and education, gender equality, the climate crisis, and conflict prevention and stabilization.

On global health, the declaration states that the UK and Germany will work together to strengthen multilateral approaches in response to and to prevent future global health crises, with a focus on the World Health Organization. The two countries will also work to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. The countries are committed to adopting a 'One Health' approach, which takes into account human, animal, and environmental health and recognizes the need for more resilient health systems.  

On conflict prevention and stabilization and peace-building, the UK and Germany announced the establishment of a new 'UK-Germany Stabilisation Partnership', and the declaration shows shared regions/countries of interest to carry out stabilization efforts, including within Africa such as in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

The two countries noted a shared sense of urgency in addressing the climate emergency, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss and agreed ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in November 2021, to align their ask of other countries to increase their impact and, where appropriate, undertake joint advocacy.  

The declaration also notes that there will be an annual German-UK Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue that will cover all matters of foreign policy and international affairs and lead cooperation and coordination.

Press release - UK government

At Generation Equality Forum, UK government commits to financing US$91 million for Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention program

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum, the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, the UK government committed to providing £68 million (US$91 million) to support its seven-year Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention program. The program, which builds on earlier initiatives, will support innovation and scale up proven methods to prevent violence.

The UK is a leading member of the Gender-Based Violence Action Coalition along with Kenya, Iceland, Uruguay, UN Women, the EU, and the Ford Foundation. The Coalition is committed to supporting evidence-based policies and financing women’s organizations to:

  • Ensure that 550 million more women and girls live in countries with laws that prohibit all forms of gender-based violence (GBV) against women by 2026;
  • Increase by 50% the number of countries that include one or more prevention strategies in their national policies by 2026;
  • Ensure that more women and girls will live in countries with multi-sectoral action plans against GBV which include the provision of police, justice, health, and social sector services by 2026; and
  • Improve and increase international funding by 50% to women’s rights organizations, activists, and movements, including those working to address GBV of all kinds against women and girls by 2026.

On the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, committed as a leader of the Action Coalition to "tackle the root causes of violence, including using education to stop violence before it starts." Raab said that the UK will continue its work on "preventing sexual violence in conflict, supporting survivors, and holding perpetrators to account."

The UK government also took the opportunity to use the Generation Equality Forum to remind member states to provide ambitious commitments to girls' education, ahead of the Global Education Summit on July 28-29, 2021, in the UK.

Twitter - UN Women

Twitter - Emily Esplen, Gender Advisor at FCDO

Twitter - Wendy Morton MP, Minister for Foreign, Common, and Development Office UK 

At Generation Equality Forum, EU pledges US$4.9 billion to women’s and girls’ empowerment, commits to proposing new legislation to combat gender-based violence by end of year

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum, the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, the EU committed to providing at least €4.0 billion (US$4.9 billion) in its 2021-2027 long-term budget to be explicitly dedicated to women’s and girls’ empowerment. The EU also pledged to propose new legislation by the end of 2021 to combat gender-based violence and hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people, as well as adding all forms of hate crimes to the list of crimes in the EU treaties. 

The European Commission was a leader of Action Coalition 1 on Gender-Based Violence along with Iceland, Kenya, the UK, Uruguay, UN Women, the World Health Organization, the Ford Foundation, European Women’s Lobby, and civil society and private sector organizations. 

In November of 2020, the European Commission published the EU’s new Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in External Action 2021–2025 (GAP III), which featured plans to have one gender-focused project per partner country and a target of 85% of all new external relations actions to contribute to gender equality and women's empowerment by 2025. GAP III’s key thematic areas of engagement included ending gender-based violence; sexual and reproductive health and rights; economic and social rights and empowerment; equal participation and leadership; women, peace and security; and green and digital transformations. 

Video of speech - European Commission

Generation Equality Forum concludes with major financial and political commitments for gender equality

The Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, kicked off in Mexico City on March 29-31, 2021, and culminated in Paris on June 30-July 2. The Forum brought together high-level stakeholders including heads of government, corporations, and NGOs to accelerate major financial and political commitments to achieving gender equality by 2026. 

Country donors announced the following commitments:

  • Canada committed CA$180 million (US$146 million) to address the root causes of gender inequality around the world, including unpaid and paid care work in low- and middle-income countries. Canada also announced that it will commit CA$100 million (US$81 million) in new funding for stand-alone international assistance directed to inequality in unpaid and paid care work;
  • The EU committed at least €4.0 billion (US$4.9 billion) in the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget to be specifically dedicated to women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment. The EU also pledged to propose new legislation by the end of 2021 to combat violence against women and hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people, as well as adding all forms of hate crimes to the list of crimes in the EU treaties;
  • France committed an additional €100 million (US$122 million) in this sector for the next five years. It also announced that €250 million (US$304 million) will be mobilized by the French Development Agency (AFD) through the bilateral channel for sexual reproductive and health rights (SRHR);
  • Germany increased its commitment to women's economic empowerment initiatives by €140 million (US$166 million), bringing Germany's total commitment to the GEF to US$285 million (€240 million). US$30 million (€25 million) of that will go to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative;
  • The Netherlands pledged US$620 million to feminist organizations and movements, including supporting the Action Coalition on economic justice, the Action Coalition on bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the Action Coalition on climate justice;
  • Sweden pledged to support the implementation of the Common Agenda for Comprehensive Abortion Care and increase resources and support for existing funding mechanisms through the Action Coalition on feminist movements and leadership;
  • The UK recommitted to providing £68 million (US$91 million) to support its seven-year-long Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention program; and
  • The US pledged US$175 million to support programs against gender-based violence and to mobilize US$12.0 billion through 2025 in investments by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in businesses that advance gender equity in emerging markets through the 2X Women's Initiative.

Newsletter - Donor Tracker

News article - Forbes

News article - UN News

At Generation Equality Forum, France pledges US$122 million to sexual and reproductive health and rights

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum, the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, France committed €100 million (US$122 million) in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for the next five years, including:

  • €90 million (US$109 million) for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supplies;
  • €5 million (US$6 million) for Shaping Equitable Market Access for Reproductive Health (SEMA) coordinated by 'Amref Health Africa'; and
  • €5 million (US$6 million) for the Global Partnership Forum on Comprehensive Sexuality Education, an initiative co-led by UNFPA and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

France also announced that €250 million (US$304 million) will be mobilized by the French Development Agency through the bilateral channel for SRHR, and the French Muskoka Fund, supporting maternal and child health in West Africa, will be given €50 million (US$61 million) from 2022-2026.

These commitments came in addition to France's pledge to the Global Partnership for Education totaling €333 million (US$450 million), half of which will support access to education for girls and equality in education.

France was co-host of the Forum along with Mexico, as well as a leader of the Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Press release - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in French)

At Generation Equality Forum, Netherlands pledges US$620 million to feminist organizations and movements

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum, the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, the Netherlands pledged US$620 million to feminist organizations and gender equality movements.

The Netherlands was a leader of the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, but also made commitments to support other Action Coalitions such as:

  • Supporting for the Action Coalition on Economic Justice by improving access to finance for women-owned businesses in Africa in cooperation with the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and other development financial institutions;
  • Realizing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), quality care and services, information, and education for the Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and SRHR; and
  • Contributing to sustainable forest management, strengthening livelihoods in forested landscapes, and reducing CO2 emissions by halting deforestation while ensuring women are at least 50% of the recipients of these projects for the Action Coalition on Climate Justice.

The Netherlands also signed the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA Compact), a movement for action on women and security, and gender equality in humanitarian action.

Twitter – NL Women’s Rights

US House Appropriations Committee approves US foreign assistance bill for fiscal year 2022

The US House Appropriations Committee approved a US$62.2 billion bill to fund the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill, which was passed on a party-line vote. With the approval of the agriculture appropriations bill, which provided funding for international food assistance and other small amounts in additional assistance, the total amount for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 International Affairs budget provided by House appropriators is US$64.1 billion. This represents a US$6.7 billion (12%) increase over FY 2021 levels.

The House committees' approved levels were just slightly above what US President Joe Biden had requested in his budget. Global health funding increased by 16%. The largest increase was for global health security, but other increases were made for tuberculosis, bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, and international family planning. The bill also removed long-standing restrictions to family planning programs and permanently repealed the Mexico City Policy, also known as the 'global gag rule'.

Humanitarian assistance increased by 9% to US$8.5 billion. Climate funding, including funding for the Green Climate Fund, was set at over US$3.0 billion, which was higher than Biden's budget request.

News article - USGLC

At Generation Equality Forum, Sweden commits to championing comprehensive abortion care, Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, in addition to previously committing US$206 million for ending gender-based violence (US$44 million), financing women's rights organizations (US$60 million), and supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)—including comprehensive abortion care (US$102 million)—Sweden pledged to support the implementation of the Common Agenda for Comprehensive Abortion Care, established in April 2021 with the following priorities:

  • Intersectional and inclusive movements from the local to the international;
  • Responsive funding;
  • Person-centered quality abortion care;
  • More and greater coordination across and beyond the movement, supporting risk, creativity, advocacy, and accountability;
  • Action addressing the opposition to abortion and SRHR; and
  • Improved access to comprehensive abortion care in humanitarian settings.

Sweden, along with the other new signatories, also committed to creating platforms for continued dialogue and collaboration, including at least one more Global Safe Abortion Dialogue in the coming five years, and platforms to increase resources and support existing funding mechanisms, programs, and funds that provide direct, flexible, progressive, and sustainable funding to feminist organizations, movements, and activists, including those that are often hard to reach and/or who have been historically marginalized.

This increase of resources will be done through a collective funding commitment for the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will participate in the Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements and continue to contribute to joint learning and advocacy for improved methods to support feminist movements and youth-led organizations with flexible funding. 

Sweden, as an organizer of the Stockholm Gender Equality Forum in 2018 and a supporting entity of the Tunis Forum 2019, has been actively engaged in the work leading up to the GEF. Sida has provided funding to UN Women for their work relating to Beijing +25 and GEF to ensure an inclusive process with participation from civil society at the center. In addition to being one of the co-leads for the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights together with, among others, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and PayPal, Sweden is also an Action Coalition Commitment Maker for the Action Coalitions on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender-Based Violence, and Feminist Movements and Leadership, as well as the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA Compact).

Work in the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights has revolved around four sub-areas: home and care work, a level playing field, access to resources such as land, ownership and financial services, and the macroeconomic perspective and gender budgeting.

Sweden's priorities have included "economic and social reforms such as individual taxation, childcare, care for the elderly, the labor market, and various welfare reforms," said Ulrika Grandin, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "We have also put extra pressure on the feminist trade policy, which we think is well reflected in the action plan."

Sweden has a long-standing status as a global leader for gender equality. In 2014, Sweden became the first country in the world to adopt a feminist foreign policy, allowing it to use all its foreign policy tools (including development cooperation) to address gender equality globally.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

At Generation Equality Forum, US commits US$175 million to support programs against gender-based violence, increases funding toward women's economic empowerment and SRHR

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, the US made a number of policy and resource commitments, reflecting both domestic and international priorities. The commitments made were in support of US President Joe Biden's gender equality and equity agenda and centered on three areas: preventing gender-based violence, women's economic empowerment, and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Biden's fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget included a request for US$1.2 billion for gender programming globally.

Some of the key international commitments included:

  • Updating the 2016 US strategy to combat gender-based violence and committing US$175 million to support programs against gender-based violence, as well as seeking additional resources for the DREAMS services;
  • Mobilizing US$12.0 billion through 2025 in investments by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in businesses that advance gender equity in emerging markets through the 2X Women's Initiative. The DFC pledged to establish a technical assistance program to help advance companies' efforts toward gender equity. Biden's budget also requested US$200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Fund in FY 2022 to address issues that disproportionately affect women and girls, and Biden committed US$33 million for gender issues in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador); and 
  • Working to increase comprehensive reproductive health services for family planning, including rescinding the Mexico City Policy (also known as the 'global gag rule') and working with UN agencies, including the World Health Organization, to improve and expand such services. Biden has also proposed to increase funding to the UN Population Fund by 72% over FY 2021 levels.

US Vice President Kamala Harris served as one of the opening speakers for the GEF. In her remarks, she stressed the imperative for gender equality in order to strengthen democracy both at home and abroad.  

Press release - The White House

Transcript - The White House