Overseas aid mythbuster
Recently there has been some negativity in the press around the UK continuing to give aid to foreign countries whilst many UK services have faced cuts.
For supporters who believe it’s important to help people overseas but are facing a negative view from the media and friends or family, we wanted to give you the tools to challenge the myths you hear with some facts, figures and examples of what your support is achieving.
What you can do
- Share this page with others on facebook or twitter
- Print off this page, put it in your bag and next time you hear someone complain about the UK giving money overseas challenge them with one your facts
Challenging the myths about overseas aid
Myth: “The UK is spending more on overseas aid than on public services”
Fact: In 2011 UK aid accounted for an estimated 0.56% of the UK Gross National Income (this equates to an estimated spend of £8,452 million) [source]. This was less than the previous year. All parties committed to 0.7% during the 2010 election but 2013 is the first year this level has been reached in a budget.
More detail: Activities which immediately come to mind like Emergency Aid and disaster relief are included in these figures. Less obvious activities are also included such as training police in Afghanistan; tackling corruption around the world; and things like Gift Aid for international development charities and UK Border Agency costs. It is used for bilateral aid (from one country to another), multilateral aid (given through international organisations such as the World Bank) as well as funding some of the work of selected NGOs.
Myth: “Everyone’s talking about helping women and girls now, there must be lots of money available”
Fact: A 2011 survey of 1119 women’s organisations from over 140 countries found that only one-tenth of women’s organisations received funding from their national government, from another government or from international NGOs.
More detail: Recent years have seen increasing attention to women and girls as ‘agents of change’ and commitments on gender equality but the attention has not translated to funding for women’s rights organisations.
The funding that women’s rights organisations do receive is often fragmented and given as small sums. Many organisations struggle to survive due to the short-term nature of their funding, and established women’s rights organisations that have developed innovative models and approaches are unable to scale up their work to reach more women and girls. Read our report on funding for women’s rights organisations.
Myth: “Organisations like Womankind operate on millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money”
Fact: Womankind Worldwide received £1,574,273.00 from the Department of International Development in 2011/12. This represented 37% of Womankind’s overall income.
Womankind’s income is a mixture of private donations and legacies, as well as grants from the Government, grant-giving trusts and organisations like Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. We also receive some donations from community groups and companies. In any given year, around a third of our total income will come from individuals.
Myth: “Donations and taxpayers’ money ends up in the hands of corrupt leaders and governments”
Fact: All funds transferred to other countries by Womankind Worldwide go directly to women’s organisations and we have stringent systems in place to ensure it is all used as intended. We give absolutely no money to leaders or governments.
More detail: The women’s organisations we partner with are almost all registered charities. Womankind undertakes due diligence procedures when we begin working with partners to avoid risk of fraud and corruption. Womankind itself is subject to due diligence procedures on receipt of its funding from the Department of International Development. The finances of all our projects are monitored closely, and are subject to regular financial evaluations. In addition to this, our partners are required to obtain an external audit for each project they undertake.
Myth: “The UK has been helping developing countries for years – it doesn’t make any difference”
Fact: The UK’s aid programme has made a measurable difference in its 22 priority countries. Here’s some numbers from a single year of DFID’s bilateral aid programme (2008-9):
- Trained over 150,000 teachers
- Built or reconstructed over 9,500 classrooms
- Trained over 70,000 health professionals
- Vaccinated over 4 million children against measles
- Delivered over 6 million anti-malarial bednets
- Provided anti-retroviral drugs to over 200,000 people with HIV
- Distributed over 400 million condoms
- Provided over 2.5 million people with clean water
- Provided over 2.5 million people with better sanitation
- Built or upgraded 1,500 km of road and maintained a further 14,500 km
- Provided new/improved electricity to over 50,000 households
- Assisted over 13 million people through food security programmes
- Assisted over 3 million people through social assistance programmes
More detail: In turn Womankind and our partners have our own measurable impacts. For example, in the district of Kembatta in Ethiopia, where we have worked for ten years with our local partner KMG, Female Genital Cutting has been reduced dramatically from 97% to just 4%. In Ghana, where we have worked for 20 years, our partners lobbied for and secured the Domestic Violence Act 2007. We have now established 17 community based anti-violence teams to ensure this important change in the law is embedded in community life.
You can find examples about what Womankind’s partners have achieved to date through our support on our website:
Challenging attitudes towards the world’s very poor
Here are some of Womankind Worldwide’s opinions on some widely held attitudes towards the poorest people in the world.
“Someone on the other side of the world with their problems has nothing to do with me”
Fact: We live in globalised world which ties people together across the globe
Our opinion: Womankind Worldwide recognises the poverty and discrimination experienced by people in the UK and other countries. We believe it is possible for individuals and the UK government to balance assisting people in both our local and global communities and that it is beneficial for the UK even in times of financial hardship.
We believe that all people, wherever they are, deserve to receive equal services and treatment by virtue of being human. We believe that all people everywhere have the same needs and aspirations and that those of us living with privilege cannot assume that less fortunate people have lesser aspirations for their lives and the lives of their families.
The UK is dependent on global trading and business relationships, which benefits from development in other countries. The UK has a long history of interest and intervention in global business and there are numerous occasions and situations in which the UK takes a leadership role in standing shoulder to shoulder in assisting and supporting the international community.
“Womankind is a UK organisation. You shouldn’t be sticking your nose into other countries’ problems”
Fact: Womankind does not impose priorities. We are guided by ordinary women, and help local groups protect and support courageous women as they push for the changes they want.
Our opinion: Womankind enables women in developing countries to join together as they try to change things in their own lives. They, in turn, educate and support others to do the same; from a few actions come many more. And as momentum grows, women’s voices get heard more widely and even bigger changes can result – within communities and throughout society. Which changes women want to make are decided by the women themselves.
Womankind does not impose priorities invented in the UK. We are always guided by ordinary women in a specific context and what they want to change. We don’t fly in ready-made solutions, instead, we work with local community groups to develop a range of practical solutions around local conditions, providing funding and support, and regularly visiting to monitor and evaluate the differences being made in women’s lives.
Myth: “Violence against women is a cultural issue.”
Fact: Violence is experienced by women everywhere in all cultures and traditions:
- Sierra Leone: Up to 64,000 women were sexually assaulted by combatants during the war. (UNIFEM 2010)
- In ‘peaceful’ countries such as Ghana, 1 in 3 women experience violence specifically because of their gender (www.gendercentreghana.org, 2009)
- 78% of women in the Kapivastu district in Nepal suffer from domestic violence (Saathi, 2010)
More detail: While levels of violence are higher in certain countries violence against women is about unequal power relations between women and men wherever it occurs. Womankind believes that culture is not a fixed and unchangeable thing and that harmful practices develop through unequal power relationships to suit those who hold power. No person should have to suffer violence or harmful treatment because of their gender.
- Violence against women and girls: Your Questions, Our Answers published by the Gender and Development Network
- How women’s rights and development are funded
- What DFID does with the aid budget
Over to you…
- Please tell us if these facts and examples are useful
- Tell us if you’ve been able to use them and what response you got
- Give us other myths that you’ve encountered and would like Womankind to provide a response for
Contact Ellen Stuart on 020 7549 0379 or Ellen@womankind.org.uk