A new report shows that Europe spent a total of 845 million Euros on global sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and family planning in 2018 – an overall increase of 5% compared to 2017. Encouragingly, 10 out of the 12 reviewed countries either increased or maintained their funding levels, yet major shortfalls and political barriers remain.
European governments have specific commitments to support SRH in developing countries, yet the number of women with an unmet need for contraception is still over 200 million, demonstrating a persistent funding shortfall. 2020 is a key deadline for the Family Planning 2020 initiative, which aims to increase the number of women who take up a modern form of birth control by 120 million since its 2012 inception. However, the latest FP2020 progress report revealed that only 53 million additional users have been reached so far.
Champions of international family planning
The analysis by Countdown 2030 Europe reveals how much each of the 12 countries under review contributed to SRH and family planning in 2018. In terms of total amount, the UK comes out on top with almost 204 million Euros spent, followed by Norway (146 million), the Netherlands (142 million), and Sweden (131 million). However, Sweden is the biggest donor when accounting for economy size – the country spent 1.04% of its Gross National Income on overseas development aid in 2018.
Funding increased since 2017 in Ireland, Spain, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, and was sustained in France, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. Ireland had the most significant increase in growth of funding since 2017 at 50%, followed by Spain (42%).
The report notes that “Opposition to SRHR in Europe has significantly increased in recent years, with the expansion of right-wing populist movements.” The rise of regressive policies is sadly not restricted to Europe and has endangered women’s lives across the world. The US Government’s Global Gag Rule, for example, implicates a staggering 9 billion USD in annual foreign aid.
Population Matters attended the Nairobi Summit in November 2019, the 25th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo which acknowledged the urgent need to empower women and girls. At the Summit, delegates called for accelerating efforts to implement the ICPD agenda and renewed their commitments. However, the Summit also revealed that ending preventable maternal deaths, satisfying family planning demand and stopping gender-based violence by 2030 will cost an additional 222 billion USD over the next decade.
Countries must strengthen existing commitments to meet funding shortfalls and push back against the harmful policies that seek to restrict women’s bodily autonomy.