British aid cuts have had a “devastating” effect on women and girls around the world, forcing sexual and reproductive health programmes to be cancelled, according to a new cross-party report by MPs.
Nearly 300,000 women died during pregnancy and childbirth globally in 2020, according to the parliamentary committee, which said aid should be used to combat this problem, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of the deaths happened. It also said 2.4 million children died in their first year – most of them in sub-Saharan Africa or central and southern Asia.
Sarah Champion, the IDC chair, said: “A girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than to finish secondary school. Even here in the UK maternal deaths are at their highest level in 20 years, but almost 95% of maternal deaths globally are in poorer countries.”
An analysis of the potential impact of government policy on disadvantaged groups, known as an equality impact assessment, presented to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in July 2023, warned that the cuts could mean nearly 200,000 more unsafe abortions were performed in Africa.
The UK cut its official development assistance (ODA) from £11.7bn in 2019 to £7.6bn in 2022. Funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) was cut by a third.