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Finland to provide significant additional funding to work on sexual and reproductive health in developing countries

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 2.3.2017 11.15 | Published in English on 2.3.2017 at 11.21
Press release

Press release 43/2017
2 March 2017

The Government of Finland directs an additional sum of EUR 20 million for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries. The funding was announced by Kai Mykkänen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, at the She Decides conference organised in Brussels.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights are a priority in Finland’s development cooperation. The change in the political climate and especially the cuts in government spending on international development aid, planned by the US, threaten to suspend a large number of projects helping to defend the health of millions of girls, even helping to save their lives. We respond to the situation fraught with distress by investing in the improvement of women’s and girls’ rights even more than before,” said Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen.

The additional funding from Finland’s development cooperation appropriations will be complemented by funding from the private sector. The UK-based Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) has announced that it will allocate USD 10 million to the promotion of sexual and reproductive health. CIFF is the world’s largest philanthropy that focuses specifically on improving children’s lives.

"I am honoured to join Finland in this public-private sector collaboration. As Finland in recent years has focused on efficiency and results in all their development work, it is a very natural partner for us. We both try to solve problems, rather than just giving and we have found our interaction with the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Ministry of Finance very speedy and rewarding. This is a generous contribution from a small nation in such a short timeframe," said Sir Chris Hohn, founder of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

The additional contribution by CIFF and the Government of Finland amounts to about EUR 30 million in total. More than 220 million women in the world have an unmet need for contraception. Women and girls must have the right to have control over their own bodies and freedom to choose to marry and to have children; this is a central precondition for their full participation in the development of their societies.

“This involves safe childbirths, strengthening of sexual self-determination, the right to have contraception and also a safe abortion – that is, fundamental human rights. Furthermore, each additional year a girl spends at school increases her future salary by 10–20 per cent, and we can estimate that each euro invested in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health benefits the national economy by EUR 120. Support for the rights of women and girls is an important investment in development,” Minister Mykkänen said.

Finland’s additional funding of EUR 20 million targeted at sexual and reproductive health and rights covers, for example, bilateral development programmes in Somalia, Afghanistan and Kenya, as well as humanitarian aid work in Syria. Nearly half of the total sum, EUR 9 million, will be channelled through international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).

In total, Finland’s funding for ongoing sexual and reproductive health programmes amounts to EUR 34 million. In addition, Finland’s core funding to the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA in 2016 amounted to EUR 19 million. Many CSOs receiving programme and project support are working to promote sexual and reproductive health.

The conference on the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Brussels is part of the #SheDecides initiative, launched by the Netherlands.

The initiative, supported by the Netherlands and countries such as Luxembourg, Canada and Estonia, aims to compensate for the shortage of funding created by recent policy changes. The conference was hosted by the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, and it brought together representatives of national governments, UN agencies, civil society and the research community in support of the agenda on sexual and reproductive health.

Inquiries: Pasi Rajala, Special Adviser to Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. +358 400 464 393 and Satu Santala, Director General, tel. +358 295 351 815.

The Foreign Ministry's email addresses are of the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.

Kai Mykkänen