April 26, 2017
by Nadia Prupis, staff writer
Women's Rights on Chopping Block in Trump Budget, Leaked Docs Show
If approved, 2018 budget would slash funding for Global Women's Issues ambassador from $8.25 million to zero
President Donald Trump wants to cut all funding to a State Department bureau that promotes women's rights around the world, according to documents leaked to Foreign Policy this week.
The internal budget document shows that the president wants to merge the State Department with USAID, the federal agency that administers humanitarian assistance around the world, and funnel money from numerous aid programs to national security initiatives instead. A number of offices are on the chopping block, from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, which faces a 94.5 percent funding cut, to the Bureau for Food Security, which would lose 68 percent.
Among the programs facing the largest cuts is the ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, FP reported. If Trump's 2018 budget is approved by Congress, it would slash that office's budget of $8.25 million in 2016 to zero.
Musimbi Kanyoro, the president and chief executive of the Global Fund for Women, told the Independent on Wednesday, "This proposed budget cut sends an alarming signal about the primacy the U.S. government accords to women's human rights around the world."
"An action like this de-prioritizes women and girls and holds the threat that we will actually see global women's rights recede rather than advance under the watch of this administration," Kanyoro said.
The news comes just after the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, spoke at a roundtable discussion on women's rights where she defended her father's record on the issue–eliciting boos and hisses from the audience.
"[A]s Ivanka Trump calls for women's economic empowerment, her father's budget seeks to eliminate funding for the ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, a development assistance funding account that historically provided over $250 million for gender equality and women's empowerment, as well as crucial funding for agencies like the UNFPA [United Nations Population Fund]," said Paul O'Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns at Oxfam America, in a statement Tuesday.
Trump slashed funding to the UNFPA, which offers reproductive and maternal health services around the world, earlier this month.
"Talk is cheap when you don't fund the efforts you tout. It's clear that women's empowerment and gender equality are on the chopping block in this budget," O'Brien said, noting that many of the programs slated for defunding run on less than a penny of every federal dollar.
This isn't the first time the Trump administration has turned its back on global women's issues. In January, the president signed an order that imposed a funding ban on U.S.-supported charities overseas that provide information on abortion—a move that prompted at least 10 countries to sign up for a funding initiative to fill some of the shortfall, expected to be around $600 million over the next four years.
Trump also sent an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Center for Family and Human Rights, to represent the U.S. at a United Nations conference on women's issues in March.
"Congress must stand against this reckless move to walk away from one of America's proudest and smartest investments," O'Brien said Tuesday. "Instead of building on these investments and ongoing real reforms, this administration is proposing devastating cuts that will have dire consequences for millions of people, as well as our global standing, national security interests, and the values central to America's identity."
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