In 2015, 193 nations (including the United States) adopted a set of 17 global goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Agenda 2030, that offers a comprehensive roadmap to end poverty and gender inequalities by 2030. By signing Agenda 2030, nations have, as members of the United Nations, committed themselves and their resources to implementing, tracking, and achieving these goals as a part of their national development and economic growth plans. Nevertheless, the U.S., under the leadership of President Trump, has made it clear that Agenda 2030 is not a priority.
Since taking office, President Trump has systematically taken actions that fundamentally contradict the U.S.’ promise to achieve gender equality under Goal 5 (on gender equality) of the SDGs, domestically and internationally.
Since being sworn in on January 20, President Trump has reinstated the Global Gag rule, defunded the United Nations Population Fund, sent conservative family-first non-profit organizations with the U.S.’ official delegation to the U.N.’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and just last week, signed a domestic law enabling individual states to defund Planned Parenthood (PPFA). In taking these actions, President Trump is directly violating the promise the U.S. made to achieve SDG5, specifically target 6, which ensures “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights” in the U.S. and around the world. Furthermore, by sending two ultra-conservative, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTI, hate groups with the U.S. delegation to CSW is not only an extension of the violation to SDG5.6 but, as our Executive Director Emily Bove says, an “insult to injury” to the tireless work of feminists and women’s rights advocates to secure and uphold these rights worldwide.
In addition to all of these blatant attacks against women’s rights and gender equality, President Trump’s proposed “skinny budget” requests a $650 million reduction in multilateral funding for institutions such as the World Bank (over three years), an over 50 percent reduction in funding the U.N. and its agencies, specifically peacekeeping operations and the Green Climate Fund, and a complete elimination of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account. By defunding these multilateral institutions and agencies wherein the SDGs and sustainable development programs are housed, the U.S. is signaling to the global community that they do not take the elimination of poverty and inequalities seriously. In contrast to proposed federal budgets during the Obama administration, President Trump’s FY2018 “skinny budget” makes no mention of women’s empowerment or gender equality, nor poverty reduction or sustainable development. Again reiterating the lack of prioritization by the U.S. to support and be a leader in the implementation of Agenda 2030 and SDG5.
In May, we will learn how much of the $25.6 billion requested for State (a 28 percent deduction from the FY2017 budget), will be allocated to Function 150, the International Affairs Budget. At that point, we will know how much will be disseminated for gender equality programming and civil society organizations. Devastatingly, we do not have high expectations given President Trump’s continuously regressive actions taken toward women’s rights and the seemingly explict omission of women and gender equality in the proposed “skinny budget.”
In essence, the U.S. is repeatedly sending a deeply concerning message to the global community of women’s rights and social change organizations: we cannot rely on this administration’s support of, let alone leadership on, strengthening the global movement for gender equality and achieving SDG5. Nevertheless, Women Thrive and our Alliance members will be sending a letter to the U.S. Congress calling for a stronger Function 150 allocation to ensure that the U.S. contribution and commitment to gender equality worldwide and international frameworks such as Agenda 2030 are upheld.