“Relief and Cautious Optimism”: Global Fund for Women Joins Gender Justice Leaders around the World in Welcoming the Repeal of the Global Gag Rule

The U.S. Must Now ‘Build Back Better’ With a Bold, Comprehensive and Intersectional Feminist Foreign Policy

Global Fund for Women welcomes with relief and cautious optimism President Biden’s repeal of the deadly global gag rule.

“This is just the beginning,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “The US can’t just undo past damage; we must build back better with a bold feminist foreign policy that centers those most marginalized and allows all to thrive.”

The global gag rule had been drastically expanded under the Trump administration, affecting an estimated $8.8 billion, or 16x the funding of previous versions. Its effects are well documented and may be long-lived. The global gag rule disrupts health services, stigmatizes abortion, makes it harder for civil society organizations to operate.

Harriet Kamashanyu, Executive Director of Rhythm of Life, a Global Fund for Women partner supporting healthcare for HIV-positive sex workers in Uganda, said, “The global gag rule limits our coverage and general operations. We simply watch many girls and women of Uganda die due to unsafe abortion.”

The global gag rule has been shown to disrupt health services for millions including young women and girls, LGBTQI+ communities, sex workers, and those that are HIV positive,” said Erin Williams, Global Fund for Women Program Director, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. “The repeal of the global gag rule is a good first step towards reversing these alarming trends, and must signal a bold shift towards a comprehensive, anti-imperialist and intersectional feminist approach to global health and foreign policy.”

Global and domestic gender justice efforts are deeply interconnected. The global gag rule was replicated by the Trump administration in the U.S. with a domestic gag rule that denies federal family planning dollars to healthcare providers who offer abortion services or referrals.

Racism and gender oppression are global phenomena that affect sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing across the world,” said Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative in the United States. “In the U.S. Black women remain 3-4 times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts. In other Westernized nations, the disparities are higher. This is not a zero-sum game. Black women worldwide are in the fight for reproductive justice together; repealing the global gag rule is an important first step.”

“The global gag rule has left us down but not out,” said Mapp Frett. “Its repeal is a good first step – and at Global Fund for Women, we look forward to building on our 30+ year commitment to sexual and reproductive justice and health globally.  Grassroots gender justice movements are doing the crucial work to build back from the harmful effects of the global gag rule and press forward for  lasting and sustained change – and we will be there every step of the way to support their efforts with funding and resources.”

Global Fund for Women joins 90 organizations and counting who have signed onto a set of recommendations to the incoming administration around a feminist foreign policy. These include enacting the Global HER act; repealing the Helms Amendment; enacting the GLOBE Act; and increasing foreign aid assistance levels. Further, those most impacted must have agency in driving the foreign policy agenda: U.S. and global civil society networks and gender justice movements should drive priorities and budget allocations.  View the full recommendations and organizations here: https://www.icrw.org/publications/toward-a-feminist-foreign-policy-in-the-united-states/