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Statement: This is the time to ramp up, not decrease funding for women and girls

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Date: Monday, May 3, 2021

The ravages of COVID-19 on the lives and livelihoods of women and girls are being seen in every country, from higher job losses, shrinking work hours and greater care burdens, to increased levels of all forms of violence against women, with the development gains of decades reversed in multiple areas. This regression is an urgent driver to further ramp up investment in gender equality and women’s empowerment, an area where both global and national efforts remain chronically underfunded, despite its importance for the 2030 Agenda.

Our partners’ continued committed engagement and support are therefore more critical than ever to the work of ensuring no woman or girl is left behind. The United Kingdom, a long-standing partner of UN Women, has shown strong leadership on gender equality issues. Since 2013 it has provided UN Women with stable funding in the regular core resources that provide the institutional financial backbone for UN Women’s role as a champion, convenor and catalyst for advancing women’s rights. We depend on these core funds to adapt quickly and effectively to emerging needs and to help us raise additional investments in strategies proven to accelerate change.

It is therefore with great concern that we learnt from the Government of the United Kingdom of its intention to reduce funding to UN Women’s regular resources by approximately 60 per cent, from GBP 12.5 million (USD 15.9 million) to GBP 5 million (USD 6.9 million) for 2021. Reductions such as these to UN Women will have a major impact on our ability to support both immediate and long-term aspects of global COVID-19 response and recovery, such as life-saving assistance and support to women’s livelihoods and income generation, as well as advising governments on meeting the needs of survivors of the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ of gender-based violence. This reversal is deeply alarming both as a loss of critical funds to women and girls and as a potential weakening of the global community’s commitment to this central Sustainable Development Goal, just at the moment where strength and sustained support is most needed.

We urge the UK to continue championing gender equality and women’s empowerment, including through its G7 and COP 26 Presidencies and to build global solidarity. We count on its continued support, for example as a co-lead of the global Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence, to mobilize concrete, ambitious and sustainable commitments towards achieving gender equality as we prepare for the Generation Equality Forum in Paris from 29 June to 2 July 2021.

We look forward to a prompt reinstatement of the full 0.7 per cent aid commitment.

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