5 July 2017: Calls for Australian Government to reinstate $23m in lost family planning funding

Australia’s commitment to reproductive, maternal and sexual health in developing nations has halved in only three years, sparking concerns from major aid agencies. 

Girls’ rights charity Plan International Australia has labelled the cuts a ‘stunning failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable’. The aid organisation is calling on the Australian Government to reinstate the lost funding ahead of an international Family Planning Summit in London on July 11.  

In 2012, the Australian Government pledged to double funding for family planning services to $53 million a year and to spend an additional $58 million over five years, as part of a $1.6 billion investment in maternal, reproductive and child health. 

However, Deputy CEO of Plan International Australia Susanne Legena says funding for family planning in the aid budget has instead been slashed in half since 2012, decreasing from $46 million to only $23 million. 

“This drastic turn around on family planning funding is incredibly concerning. The lost millions could save the lives of millions of women and girls in developing countries,” Ms Legena said. 

“Family planning services give women and girls the power to decide when and how many children they have and access to vital maternal services when they do decide to get pregnant. 

“Life-saving programs around the world have already suffered under Trump Administration’s Mexico City Policy, which removes provision for family planning services in the USA aid budget and is essentially a death warrant for many girls and women worldwide. 

“It means women – and girls in particular – have no choice but to give birth in sometimes very dangerous situations and often before their bodies are ready. We know 800 women die every day from preventable pregnancy. 

"With the USA failing to show leadership on this issue, Australia is in a perfect position to provide an antidote to this terrible situation by increasing its funding to what was promised in 2012.”

Plan International Australia, as part of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium, is campaigning Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to reinstate this funding ahead of the Family Planning Summit in London on July 11, with an additional $10 million increase each year. 

The Consortium has launched a campaign to urge the Minister to take positive action. 

World leaders, the United Nations and major aid organisations will gather in London for the July 11 summit, co-hosted by UK Secretary of State for International Development, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

The summit comes at a time when women and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is under threat around the globe. 

The first Family Planning Summit, held in 2012, led to the creation of the global partnership, FP2020, and secured commitments from countries, including Australia, for universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights for women and girls around the world. 

“The Australian Government and Minister Bishop have a strong commitment to gender equality and girl's rights which is why we are calling on them to reinstate this funding,” Ms Legena said. 

“The upcoming London Family Planning Summit is a great opportunity to show our nation is serious about the rights of women and girls. We call on the Australian Government to reinstate life-saving family planning funding, committing an additional $10 million each year over the next three years.”

Find out more about the Plan International Australia campaign: https://planinternational.good.do/herfuture/email/   

  • Between 1990 and 2015, the number of women and girls dying during pregnancy dropped by 44%.  
  • Even with this staggering improvement, more than 800 women and girls die every day from preventable pregnancy and childbirth causes.  
  • About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year. 
  • Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally. 
  • Every year, some 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions.  
  • Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly in rural communities, where women and girls have limited access to health services, contraception and family planning advice.   
  • The Trump Administration’s Mexico City Policy places restrictions on all global health funding provided by the US, potentially affecting millions of women and girls in the developing world and the services they rely on, including family planning, HIV and maternal and child health services.