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House Appropriations Committee Approves $8.5 Billion in Humanitarian Funding

Women’s Refugee Commission Urges Senate to Uphold Funding and Critically Needed Support for Displaced Women and Girls Globally

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House Appropriations Committee yesterday afternoon approved $62.24 billion in foreign assistance funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, including increases from FY2021 levels for humanitarian assistance by $700 million, bilateral family planning by $185 million, and prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV) by $35 million. The bill also reinforces standing programs tackling gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies, an issue impacting a reported 70% of women and girls in crises, and resources the Biden-Harris administration’s pledge to increase refugee admissions to the United States.

The FY2022 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill, which passed out of committee by a 32 to 25 vote, also took a landmark step by eliminating the Global Gag Rule and removing restrictions imposed by the Helms Amendment, both of which prevent women and girls from accessing quality health services. For women, girls, and others in humanitarian crises, these provisions in the FY22 bill are critical to ensuring they can receive life-saving services such as maternal care, family planning, and safe abortion. The bill now heads to the U.S. House floor for consideration while the U.S. Senate reviews provisions for its own FY22 Appropriations bills.

Data show that 235 million people worldwide are in need of humanitarian assistance, with more than 82 million forcibly displaced – the majority of whom are women and children.

“This legislation represents a critical step in restoring U.S. leadership around the globe and would help meet the needs of displaced women, girls, and youth who are disproportionately affected by conflict and crisis,” said Gayatri Patel, vice president of external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We applaud the increase in desperately needed funding in humanitarian assistance and foreign aid overall and we commend the long overdue move to break barriers to quality health care for women worldwide. This bill would invest in the well-being of refugee women and girls and would help advance gender equality, tackle gender-based violence, and promote the human rights of all people.”

The legislation also would invest in foreign aid programs to advance women’s economic security, provide support to Afghan women following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, increase refugee admissions to the U.S., and it addresses root causes of irregular migration.

“Providing funds specifically to support Afghan women directly recognizes how the path to achieving gender equality requires long-term, strategic support, particularly during a protracted crisis,” said Patel. “And, when it comes to gender-based violence, we simply cannot afford to pull our punches on an issue affecting one in three women around the world. We know that gender-based violence takes place in every humanitarian crisis around the world and rose at alarming rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a world leader, the U.S. must invest in solutions that work – now and in the long term – to end GBV and support survivors. WRC appreciates the support of the House Appropriations Committee for programs like the Safe from the Start initiative to strengthen responses to GBV in humanitarian settings.”

Specifically, the bill would provide:

  • $8.53 billion in humanitarian assistance, including funding for overseas relief operations and refugee admissions into the United States
  • $200 million to a new Gender Equity and Equality Fund to boost women’s economic security, address GBV, and confront the impacts of COVID and climate change on women
  • $70 million to UNFPA in addition to $760 million in bilateral family planning funding allocations
  • $860 million for programs in Central America to stem irregular migration, including by alleviating poverty and preventing GBV
  • $60 million in funding to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls in light of U.S. troop withdrawal and deep concerns about impacts on women’s status

“This House Appropriations bill makes an important statement – that gender equity matters, that the health and rights of women and girls count, and that the U.S. is standing up to be a leader once again in responding to humanitarian need,” said Patel. “We urge the Senate to support these gains by robustly funding these measures to advance the rights of displaced women and girls.”