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Giving Thanks and Spanks to Reproductive Health Donors

This World Contraception Day, PAI is taking the time to thank the donor governments whose investments in international sexual and reproductive health enable women and girls around the world to access family planning and reproductive health services. These donors help meet the family planning needs of the 652 million women and girls in the developing world who are using modern contraception, and make sure they have the information and tools they need to do so.

This also means that we need to call out the donor governments who are falling short because another 225 million more women and girls want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern contraceptives. If donors provided the estimated $10.7 billion in external funds needed for international sexual and reproductive health, it would go a long way to reducing this unmet need for family planning. Based on data for 2012, the most recent year for which the numbers are available, the global donor funding gap for sexual and reproductive health is a staggering $6.7 billion.

To recognize the donors pulling their weight in funding sexual and reproductive health, we looked at the annual average of each donor’s funding in this area over the past three years. We compared this three-year average to their fair share of funding, or the reasonable portion of donor funding that each donor should pay based on their economic power over the same time period. The fair share methodology is based on the assumption that the more economic power a country has compared to other rich countries, the more of an obligation it has to pay toward the total donor funding needed for effective sexual and reproductive health services.

We congratulate Luxembourg and The Netherlands for meeting their fair share of funding, and the United Kingdom (UK) and Norway for coming close. The UK in particular has made great strides increasing its official development assistance (ODA) to meet the target to provide 0.7% of gross national income to ODA. Another tier of countries—Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Ireland, stand out for meeting more than one-third of their fair share of funding for sexual and reproductive health.

The remaining 15 wealthy countries provide less than one-third of their fair share of funding for sexual and reproductive health. In other words, their funding in this area is far below what they have the capacity to provide. The United States in particular meets only 25% of its fair share.

U.S. government-funded reproductive health programs serve millions of women in over 45 countries. As a major donor and the world’s largest economy, the United States can and should do more to fulfill its commitments to sexual and reproductive health. This would contribute immensely to increasing access to modern contraceptives, reducing maternal morbidity and mortality and improving the health and well-being of women and families around the world. For the past 50 years PAI has fought to protect U.S. government funding for international family planning. We will continue to work with champions in Congress and other advocates to ensure that reproductive health services and supplies are adequately funded. The health and rights of women are too important to allow donors who have fallen behind on their promises to get by with just a slap on the wrist.

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