CHRISTIAN Aid welcomed an announcement by the Government last
week that it will double the money it gives to family-planning
services in developing countries.
A statement from the Department for International Development
(DFID) said that the UK would double its contribution to family
planning, from the £90 million per year it has given over the past
two years to an average of £180 million per year. The statement
said that the extra money would "provide an additional 24 million
girls and women in the world's poorest countries with
family-planning services between now and 2020".
The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:
"Being able to plan the size of her family is a fundamental right
that we believe all women should have. British support will mean
that millions of women who are currently unable to access or use
family planning information, services, and supplies will be able to
decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when, and how many
children to have."
The policy director for Christian Aid, Christine Allen, said:
"As a faith-based organisation, we know that family planning is a
sensitive issue, but empowering women to plan their children is an
important means of valuing and protecting human life. As the
Government today acknowledges, it will lead to fewer deaths in both
child-bearing women and children in infancy."
Last weekend, the London Summit on Family, convened by the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation, took place in London. The meeting was
criticised by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.
Its executive director, Wendy Wright, said: "Elite billionaires
and powerful governments use the guise of 'helping poor women' to
extract permanent funding for abortion-promoting and
"The upshot is contraception will have a higher priority than
education, basic health care, infrastructure, and economic
improvements - measures that empower women and communities."
Last month, DFID published a paper to "strengthen and guide" its
relationship with faith groups.
Mr Mitchell, who launched the paper,
Faith Partnership Principles: Working effectively with faith groups
to fight global poverty, at Lambeth Palace, said: "When we
came into government, we were very concerned that the link between
all the many faith communities and DFID was not as close as it
should or could be."
Faith Partnership Principles "contains very practical
ideas that you can share with your . . . places of worship", he
said. The main principles it outlines are "of transparency, mutual
respect, and understanding".
The paper states: "The areas in which these principles will be
applied include: building a common understanding of faith and
development; documenting the impact of faith groups through
research and evaluation; and working on difficult themes and areas
to find effective ways to progress development and bring about
transformational change in the lives of the poor."
The Archbishop of Canterbury told the meeting that the
publication of the paper marked "a watershed moment". Dr Williams
continued: "We have for many years been in dialogue with DFID to
see what we can do to bridge the cultures of the different
organisations, and to make it absolutely clear that the vision we
share is a convergent, not a divergent, one."
Dr Williams said that faith groups "must not be allowed to get
away with shoddy, second-rate, imperfect, amateurish work simply
because we hide under the banner of faith".
The chief executive of Tearfund, Matthew Frost, said in a
statement that he was "excited that DFID have recognised the value
and potential of faith groups in bringing communities together to
solve their own problems".