On April 28, the Biden-Harris administration reached 100 days in office. After being sworn in during an unprecedented worldwide crisis, the administration passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and over 200 million people have now received the vaccination, far exceeding the President’s initial goal. In addition, President Biden has signed 44 executive actions, including rescinding the Global Gag Rule—a policy that has devastating consequences for women and girls worldwide. The Biden-Harris administration has made significant progress these last 100 days; however, now is not the time for complacency.
To mark the first 100 days, a Coalition of 80 women’s rights and civil society organizations has released a new report on U.S. progress towards a feminist foreign policy. The report includes a scorecard to track the administration’s progress on issues of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The coalition awarded the Biden-Harris administration an A- for its first 100 days in office. According to Heather Hurlburt, Director for New Models of Policy Change at New America, the Biden administration “has far exceeded its predecessors’ records on equal gender representation in government, and taken unprecedented steps to address feminist priorities in domestic social and economic policy.”
The report looked at four categories: policy articulation, leadership and structures, funding, and accountability. So far, the administration completed most of the coalition’s requests, including creating a White House Gender Policy Council and rescinding several harmful policies, such as the horrendous Global Gag Rule, that negatively impacted gender equity and equality.
However, there is a lot of work left to do. The coalition specifically highlights lack of progress in the areas of funding and accountability. So far, the administration has not incorporated reproductive health and rights as a top policy priority or shown how the U.S. will actually prioritize gender equality globally. The U.S. needs to step up its financial commitment to $1.74 billion per year in order to satisfy the unmet need for family planning services and reproductive health care worldwide. The U.S. needs to be at the forefront of prioritizing and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.
Repealing the Global Gag Rule was a necessary first step, but the effects of the policy and uncertainty around long-term funding of family planning programs remain. As abortion rights continue to be restricted at home and aboard, the new administration needs to take a firm stance to ensure that people everywhere have access to the heath care they need. We need to call on Congress to end harmful policies such as the Helms and Hyde Amendments and fully fund reproductive heath care and family planning programs for all.
The coalition will continue to monitor the administration for the next fours years and release additional progress reports. Looking forward, the coalition recommends that the White House:
- Concentrate more attention on issues of U.S. foreign policy with the cross-cutting issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights, climate change, and peace;
- Launch a civil society advisory council for the White House Gender Policy Council and host the first joint meeting;
- Incorporate the coalition’s principles and recommendations for a U.S. feminist foreign policy and government-wide strategy for advancing gender equality in President Biden’s forthcoming FY2022 budget, and;
- Send a high-level delegation to the Generation Equality Forum in June and announce a commitment on feminist foreign policy.