The Coalition of Health Professional Bodies and Royal Colleges welcomes the publication of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Women and Girls Strategy and its commitment to supporting the access of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Please find the full statement below:
We welcome the publication of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Women & Girls Strategy. At a time when women’s rights are being rolled back around the world and women and girls are continuing to bear the brunt of conflict, insecurity and climate crises, this is a much needed update on the UK Government’s plans to put women and girls at the heart of its international development policy.
We particularly welcome the focus on supporting universal and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights as a ‘long-term’ development issue, including access to safe abortion and comprehensive sexuality education. Investing in SRHR is not only important for ensuring access to life-saving services now but is also essential to unlocking the social, economic and political agency of women and girls to make decisions about their futures.
We also welcome the announcement of the new SRHR programme, WISH (Women’s Integrated Sexual Health) Dividend. Given the devastating impact of cuts to funding to SRHR since 2020,1 this new programme is a promising step towards restoring progress on SRHR as well as the UK’s reputation as a global leader in championing the health and rights of women and girls.
However, alongside funding its own SRHR programmes, we urge the Government to continue to prioritise investment in multilateral agencies, starting with renewing its commitment to FP2030. Achieving truly universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services requires joined-up thinking and the linking of local and national action with global level goals and commitments. The Government must recognise that multilateral agencies play a pivotal role in ensuring no woman or girl is left behind.
To ensure that progress towards universal SRHR is sustainable, we also call on the Government to prioritise restoring UK spending on SRHR to 4% of the aid budget per year2 and restoring spending on ODA as a whole to 0.7% of GNI.
List of signatories:
- British Society of Abortion Care Providers
- Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Royal College of Midwives
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
- Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists