Washington Post highlights impact of Trump foreign policy on women's health

Thumbnail WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

Today a Washington Post article profiled a woman in Madagascar, "one of dozens of countries where health providers are facing cutbacks or other disruptions after a dramatic change to foreign aid by the Trump administration."

The so-called Global Gag Rule (formally known as the Mexico City Policy), has been put in place by every Republican President since Ronald Reagan. However, the Trump Administration has taken the policy further than ever before, requiring all foreign organizations to choose between accepting US funding for global health assistance, or providing counseling or referring women for abortion services with their non-US funds.

Setting the record straight
But the policy's reach goes way beyond family planning. WaterAid focuses exclusively on clean water, sanitation and hygiene, but our work has been impacted, too. President Trump’s policy could reduce the availability of basic health services to millions of poor women and girls in the almost 60 countries in which U.S Government currently provides global health assistance. Things like pediatric care, HIV testing, STD care and management and counseling are just a few of the health services that could be affected.

The article states:

Another illustration of the Trump policy’s far-reaching impact is how it affected an international charity, WaterAid, focused on sanitation, hygiene and drinking water.

In some countries where it operates, women face the risk of sexual assault as they walk to fetch drinking water. If its staff referred them to a clinic, “the chances of it being a Planned Parenthood or Marie Stopes clinic were really quite high,” said Lisa Schechtman, director of policy and advocacy for the group. It didn’t sign the policy and lost the opportunity to apply for USAID funds for health and nutrition programs in six countries, she said.

Who is affected?
The policy threatens to exclude some of the most effective health organizations in low-and middle-income countries, forcing them to cut back on critical health services and staff, and thereby endangering lives. Those at greatest risk will be the people WaterAid is mandated to serve: the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized.In many communities, a lack of political, economic and social power means that women are among the most marginalized.

WaterAid's View
WaterAid is pleased to be one of nearly 140 organizations who have signed a Coalition Statement Opposing the Global Gag Rule. We took this stand because all over the world, women depend on clinics that may lose funding due to the Global Gag Rule. For these women, reduced access to safe water, hygiene and nutrition education, a midwife, or even a clean place to give birth can literally be a matter of life or death.