Sexual and reproductive health and rights at risk in next EU budget without dedicated investment

6th June 2018
EDD 2018 HLP

At the Brussels launch of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) report this week, civil society representatives called on the European Union to make a dedicated commitment to SRHR and family planning in the EU’s next multi-annual budget.

Following on from the recommendations in the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report, the EU must include earmarked funding for SRHR, including family planning, through an explicit SRHR budget line or by designating SRHR as an objective under various budget lines (health, education, youth empowerment, human rights, gender).

EU needs specific commitment for SRHR

Regardless of how SRHR is tackled when it comes to budget lines, the EU should have a specific commitment in terms of funding levels, in order to ensure that SRHR issues consistently taken up every year in the period 2021-2027.

Caroline Hickson, Regional Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Europe Network said: “The EU itself has stated that gender equality and SRHR are at the heart of sustainable development. If it is serious about being a global leader for women and girls, it must now secure funding to ensure their reproductive freedom and safety. And yet the Commission’s latest communication on the next EU budget fails to even mention gender equality, which sends a very worrying signal about its commitment.”

“Without empowering women, no hope of achieving SDGs”

Speaking on a high-level panel debate on women and girls’ health at the annual European Development Days conference, Renate Baehr, Executive Director for Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW) said: “Gender equality, family planning, and SRHR are issues at the core of the global development agenda. But without rights for all, we can’t achieve health. Without empowering women to take control of their health, their bodies, and their futures, we have no hope of achieving the goals we have set ourselves for 2030. The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report makes this crystal clear: we need to close the gaps in access to contraception, maternal and new-born healthcare and make sure that all women have universal access to SRHR.”

According to the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report, launched at the European Development Days in Brussels, more than 200 million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern methods of contraception. In addition, more than 45 million women have inadequate or no antenatal care, and more than 30 million women do not deliver their babies in a health facility.

$9 a year to provide contraception for women

Meeting the needs of these women for these services is affordable for most countries. According to the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report, in low- and middle-income countries, an estimated annual spend of $9 per person would cover the total cost of fully meeting women’s needs for modern contraception and providing the necessary health services for pregnant women and new-born babies as recommended by the WHO.

The European Commission will come forward with its policy and budget proposals for external action (including development policy) on June 14.


A piece by DSW International and IPPF EN.