UK steps up with new support to help UNFPA protect women and girls from COVID-19

14 April 2020
UNFPA's global appeal for COVID-19 funding prioritizes countries with weak public health and social support systems like Yemen. © UNFPA Yemen

UNITED NATIONS, New York/LONDON, United Kingdom – The Government of the United Kingdom has committed £10 million ($12.54 million) in new funds for UNFPA's response to COVID-19 under a £200 million global assistance package to assist international organizations and NGOs working to address the pandemic in developing countries.

Baroness Liz Sugg, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for International Development, tweeted that UK support will go towards ensuring that UNFPA is able to provide life-saving services such as family planning and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights in vulnerable countries. "We're all in this together," she said, adding that the disease will put women and girls at greater risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage. 

"COVID-19 will only worsen existing inequalities for women and girls, and discrimination against other marginalized groups," said UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Management Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov. "We are proud to partner with the UK to defend the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls during this pandemic, in particular supporting urgent work in countries with weak public health and social support systems, as well as in humanitarian settings."

"The coronavirus does not respect country borders, so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the health-care systems of vulnerable developing countries too," said UK International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan. "Our new UK support will help stop the virus from infecting millions of people in the poorest countries, meaning we can end this global pandemic sooner and prevent future waves of infection coming to the UK."

Along with Canada, the UK is among the first donors to support UNFPA under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan as part of the UN Coordinated Appeal for COVID-19. UNFPA’s own response to the pandemic will focus on ensuring access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, and addressing gender-based violence where women and girls need these services most. 

The UK was UNFPA’s largest donor in 2019. The UK’s vision for gender equality includes enabling girls to live free from violence, and empowering them to have access to universal sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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