You may be hearing a lot of talk about budget numbers as Congress and the Executive Branch have reached an agreement on a final spending bill for fiscal year 2014. For the international family planning community, there is good news. We learned that support for bilateral family planning programs and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) remains at $610 million, the same as the past two years. In this tough fiscal environment, sustained funding for international family planning is a win and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our Universal Access Project partners.
But what does this number actually mean?
It means that more girls can stay in school and delay childbearing, more women can be empowered to choose to pursue careers, and fewer women and children will die or be severely disabled as a result of childbirth.
When I was in Ethiopia in November, I saw firsthand the critical importance of these programs and the work of UNFPA. When our team visited a USAID-funded rural clinic, we were met by an enthusiastic crowd of both men and women. We learned just how vital this clinic was to the community, as access to family planning not only saved lives, but also provided a path to lift families out of poverty.
This visit reaffirmed why the U.S. must remain a global champion for women and girls. Though we celebrate this budget, our work is far from over. There are still more than 220 million women around the world who want, but do not have, access to quality reproductive health care. To meet this need, it’s more important than ever that the U.S. step up and be a strong leader on this critical issue. Together with our Universal Access Project partners, we will continue to work with the U.S. government and partners around the world to ensure every woman has access to the family planning she wants and needs.
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