The Trump administration’s anti-woman agenda seeks to deny women access to vital health services and stifle their economic security. That agenda—no longer aimed solely at women in the United States—is now transcending borders. Whether it’s the elimination of funding for vital women’s health programs, expansion of the Global Gag Rule, or failure to appoint an ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, President Donald Trump has made it clear that women’s health and livelihoods are not even being considered as this administration develops its policy priorities.
The failure to consider women will have consequences. Women make up half of the world population and contribute to the greater good of our societies and the global economy. Their health, well-being, and ability to thrive are directly linked to world peace and security. The president’s anti-woman agenda not only hurts women here in the United States; it also hurts women in other parts of the world.
Trump is exporting his anti-woman agenda across borders in the following ways.
A budget that eliminates funding for health and development programs
Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was pressed by senators on both sides of the aisle about the massive cuts to international programs in Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2018. Under the proposal, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would experience drastic funding cuts—a total of $11.5 billion, or 29.1 percent of their combined current budgets. This is the largest proposed cut for any cabinet or department in the budget.
Unfortunately, these cuts may disproportionately harm women and girls abroad. The cuts to USAID’s budget seep into programs focused on ensuring access to global health, education, and peacekeeping. Funding for development assistance and food aid would be eliminated altogether. USAID has played a critical role in advancing women’s economic empowerment, security, health, and rights worldwide. The agency has helped women and girls access health services and education, participate in local and international economies, escape poverty, be included in peacemaking processes during times of conflict, and break down barriers to fully participate in society. USAID has also had a key role in preventing and responding to gender-based violence.
The president’s budget proposal for international family planning and reproductive health is particularly ghastly, considering evidence showing that women’s access to educational opportunities and economic security is intertwined with their access to family planning and reproductive health care. President Trump’s budget request eliminates all funding for international family planning and reproductive health. President Barack Obama’s FY 2017 budget requested a total of $620 million for these programs, including $35 million for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which plays a pivotal role in ensuring access to an array of sexual and reproductive health services, maternal health care, and emergency care for women in conflict-afflicted areas.
Funding for the UNFPA was withheld by President Trump earlier this year. The administration applied the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a prohibition on foreign assistance to any organization that supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization, to justify eliminating the U.S. contribution to the UNFPA.
It should be noted that the UNFPA’s programs have been evaluated by the U.S. government in the past, and no evidence of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization has ever been found. Blocking this funding would not only affect the ability of women and young people to access sexual and reproductive health care through UNFPA-supported programs, but it would also cripple the UNFPA’s work in the most resource-constrained settings of more than 150 countries.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, eliminating U.S. funding for these vital programs would result in 3.3 million more abortions—the majority of which would be performed unsafely—15,000 more maternal deaths, 8 million more unintended pregnancies, and 26 million fewer women and families receiving services around the world. This funding is a lifeline for women in need of family planning and reproductive health care in the developing world. By eliminating it, women and girls would be robbed of their human rights and the ability to make decisions about their futures and plan their families.
The problems don’t end there. In addition to slashing funding for programs serving women in the poorest parts of the world, the Trump administration also expanded one of the most draconian policies aimed at violating women’s human rights and eliminating access to reproductive health care.
(Excerpted from American Progress 7/6/17)