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Representative Houlahan Calls On Congress And The President to Re-Fund UNFPA And Stand Up For Women And Girls

WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the Support UNFPA Funding Act of 2019, co-led by Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Since taking office, the Administration has withdrawn all funding from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, which is the lead UN agency working to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. To combat this move, these champions for women are taking a stand and introducing legislation that authorizes funding for UNFPA.

“Investing in healthier women is investing in a more secure and peaceful world,” said Houlahan. “On my recent bipartisan trip to the Syrian-Jordanian Border, I visited the Azraq Refugee Camp and witnessed firsthand UNFPA and other international organizations serving the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan. UNFPA’s work is critical, and they are often the first and only line of defense for displaced women. Study after study has shown that achieving global peace is only possible if we empower women, girls, and families. I am disappointed in this Administration’s refusal to fund the important work UNFPA does for the health of women and, by extension, our national security. That is why I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and introduce this legislation to help build a safer world for everyone by elevating women and girls around the globe.”

“I’m pleased to cosponsor Representative Houlahan’s critical legislation to support UNFPA’s work to advance reproductive rights and help women and girls around the world,” said Chairman Engel. “UNFPA facilitates safe childbirth, promotes maternal and reproductive health, works to end female genital mutilation and child marriage, and aids those who have faced gender-based violence. It is a lifeline for the world's most vulnerable women and girls, many of whom have nowhere else to turn. It is essential that UNFPA is empowered to continue its life-saving work.”

“In my 31 years in Congress, I have helped grow the number of women in Congress to historic levels and fought for women, here and abroad, to achieve their fullest, healthiest lives,” said Chairwoman Lowey. “And I have always supported our partners who do the same. So I’m happy to once again lend my support to UNFPA, who’s worked to empower women for 50 years, by co-leading the Support UNFPA Funding Act of 2019.”

“When women and girls are educated, healthy, and free from violence, their communities and the world are more secure and prosperous,” said Rep. Frankel. “This legislation reaffirms congressional commitment to support UNFPA’s important work to empower women by ending maternal deaths, providing family planning, and eradicating gender-based violence.”

“UNFPA is a lifeline for women and girls working in over 150 countries to provide family planning, reduce maternal mortality, eradicate gender-based violence, and train health care workers,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Pro-Choice Caucus Task Force Chair on International Women’s Health. “It is the height of hypocrisy for this Administration to feign interest in women’s empowerment while ripping away their health care. Without access to family planning, their superficial claims supporting women’s empowerment ring hollow.”

 “UNFPA is an essential provider of reproductive health care for women and girls around the world,” said Rep. Diana DeGette. “It’s provided millions of women with access to contraception and has helped save countless lives from complications associated with childbirth. The Trump administration’s refusal to release the funding we approved for this critical global health program is appalling. Congress needs to act now to get this important program the funding it needs.”

 “UNFPA ensures women have access to essential family planning and health services, which are critical to addressing unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality, and fighting HIV and diseases like Ebola,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Vulnerable women across the globe cannot become casualties in the Trump-Pence administration’s war against women’s health.”

“The UNFPA provides critical access to health care for millions of women around the world,” said Rep. Lee. “The Trump Administration’s continued attacks on this life-saving organization are harmful and wrong, and fly in the face of the United States' long-standing work of improving maternal and newborn survival, and its ability to provide voluntary reproductive health care and family planning services. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to support the UNFPA.”

“The years of false attacks against UNFPA and its humanitarian work around the world must come to an end,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney. “The truth is that UNFPA delivers reproductive and maternal health care for women and girls who are innocent victims of war, political instability or natural disasters. It fights against child marriage, female genital mutilation, obstetric fistula, and other injustices that threaten women’s lives and limit their potential. Congress must fully restore funding for UNFPA’s lifesaving work. I’m proud to join Rep. Houlahan and my colleagues championing this effort.”

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, Advisors, staff and committees, I applaud the UNFPA for the action and efforts it has taken in this matter,” said Angela M. Peabody, Executive Director and Founder, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation. “The mission of our organization is to empower women and girls through education to eradicate gender based violence, with emphasis on female genital mutilation. We support UNFPA in this bill in the interest and future of women and girls. We stress education and awareness in our advocacy, and hope that the Bill will help stimulate the conversation and action of the availability of specific funding for these advocacy programs”

“Reproductive health care is central to gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and global health,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It is also one of the smartest investments the United States can make. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a critical provider of these important health services, and in some of the most war-torn and disaster-impacted parts of the world, the sole provider. Yet for the last three years, the Trump-Pence administration has chosen to withhold funding from this valuable UN partner, undermining humanitarian efforts and putting people’s lives at risk. We thank Rep. Houlahan and other reproductive health champions for introducing the Support UNFPA Funding Act and call on others in Congress to join them.”

 “UNFPA is an important partner of CARE in nearly every country where we operate,” said David Ray, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, CARE USA. “Their work and partnership are critical to realizing CARE’s own goal of ending extreme poverty and helping to empower women around the world. The Trump Administration’s misguided decision to halt funding to UNFPA means the United States is no longer supporting some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls, and the Support UNFPA Funding Act is an important step in reversing that ill-advised decision.”

As recently as the UN General Assembly in September, President Trump claimed his Administration is “championing the role of women in our societies” and that “[n]ations that empower women are much wealthier, safer, and much more politically stable.” Investing in the health of women is investing in the safety and security of our global community. The International Peace Institute found that “when women participate in peace processes, the resulting agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.” The Belfer Center at Harvard observed that “higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states.” While the President’s words are in line with the data, his actions are not. That is why these congressional leaders on global women’s equality are elevating the importance of UNFPA and fighting for the necessary funding to empower women, girls, and families in order to establish a safer world for all.

The Support UNFPA Funding Act of 2019 would:

  • Reaffirm the U.S. commitment to UNFPA and global gender equality
  • Authorize an annual contribution to UNFPA for the five years following enactment of the legislation

The Support UNFPA Funding Act of 2019 has over 100 original cosponsors and has been endorsed by over 70 organizations, including Council for Global Equality, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Refugees International, and Amnesty International USA.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

Rep. Houlahan also spoke today on CNN about the bill, video of which can be seen here.

Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She’s in her first term representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee.