Friends of UNFPA Statement on UK Government Cuts to UNFPA Funding

New York, NY – May, 6th, 2021

Friends of UNFPA notes with disappointment and great concern the recent announcement that the Government of the United Kingdom is drastically reducing its contribution to UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency. The reductions include cutting approximately $180 million from funding previously pledged for UNFPA Supplies, the UNFPA flagship program for family planning, and a $17 million cut from UNFPA’s core operating funds. 
Women and girls across the world will feel the devastating impact of these cuts. With the now-withdrawn $180 million, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership would have helped prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3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. 

The decision was made in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the UK economy. UNFPA stated it, “recognizes the challenging situation facing many donor governments, yet deeply regrets the decision of our longstanding partner and advocate to step away from its commitments at a time when inequalities are deepening and international solidarity is needed more than ever.” 

“The people we serve have already felt so much of the brunt of the COVID pandemic,” stated Friends of UNFPA Chief Executive Officer Amanda Seller. “These cuts risk compounding those negative effects.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted access to sexual and reproductive health care, ultimately causing 12 million women to lose access to family planning, 1.4 million additional unintended pregnancies, and an at least 33 percent increase in gender-based violence around the world. 

“As governments work to rebuild their economies,” added Seller, “they cannot look at programs benefitting the reproductive health of vulnerable women and girls as optional programs they are only to support during good economic times. Instead, they must view them as absolutely essential – because they are.” 

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