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5 Global Highlights of President Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Proposal

a woman wears a medical face mask in front of a clay building.

Photo: Nadi Jessica/CARE

Photo: Nadi Jessica/CARE

CARE knows that the countries most vulnerable to COVID-19 have the least capacity to cope with its effects. Since the start of the pandemic, CARE and its advocates have been fighting for a global response to COVID-19 that builds back a more just, equitable world for all.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, overwhelming communities with limited resources and further deepening inequalities faced by women and minorities every day around the globe. For those living in poverty or in countries already experiencing conflict, the pandemic has even more dire impacts.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion package to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and aid those impacted by the virus. While much of the proposal focuses on domestic priorities, it also includes $11 billion to support the global COVID-19 response.

CARE and our advocates have played an instrumental role in setting the stage for this effort and will continue working to ensure Congress includes global response funding in future relief packages. To date, only $6 billion has been directed towards the global response. Biden’s inclusion of $11 billion in his proposal is a welcome first step in providing the $20 billion necessary for the U.S. to lead a robust global COVID-19 response.

Here are five things CARE is most excited to see as part of President Biden’s latest proposal:

1. Addressing the Secondary Impacts of COVID-19

The Biden Administration has pledged to “mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on health and development and restore U.S. leadership in global health, humanitarian and development organizations, and international financial institutions.” Secondary impacts of the pandemic can also include food insecurity and malnutrition, gender-based violence (GBV), and economic devastation.

The Biden Administration has promised to “work to improve health outcomes for women and girls, including through recommitting to sexual and reproductive health and rights and maternal and child health and nutrition programs; and advance gender parity, diversity, and inclusion.” These efforts echo CARE’s core mission to prioritize women and girls during the pandemic.

2. Engaging Women and Other Vulnerable Groups in the Humanitarian Response

In its proposal, the Biden Administration pledged to support international relief and resilience efforts, including strengthening the capacity of vulnerable communities to prevent, respond to, and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 as well as engaging “women and other vulnerable groups as part of these efforts.”

CARE has continuously advocated for involving female health care workers and local women leaders in all aspects of policy change, solutions, and recovery initiatives to ensure the COVID-19 response adequately addresses the needs of women and girls. Funding and programming should address the specific economic impacts on women globally, especially lower income, migrant, and other marginalized women.

of frontline healthcare workers around the world are women.

3. Strengthening U.S. Global Leadership and Multilateralism in the COVID-19 Response

The Biden proposal notes, “Multilateral leadership and effective communication are vital to coordinate an effective response to mitigate the consequences of diseases — both COVID-19 and future threats to come —and ultimately save lives.” The Biden Administration recognizes the U.S. cannot combat the COVID-19 pandemic alone nor can it leave the rest of the world to fight the virus on its own.

As a result, the administration mandated the creation of a diplomatic outreach plan for enhancing the U.S. global COVID-19 response, with a focus on engaging partner nations, the United Nations, and other multilateral stakeholders, such as the Group of 7 (G-7), Group of 20 (G-20), African Union, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The administration will also join COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) and support multilateral cooperation on research and development, vaccination, diagnostics, and therapeutics and rejoin the World Health Organization.

4. Increasing Funding for the Global COVID-19 Response

Robust funding for the international COVID-19 response is essential. In addition to seeking funding from Congress, the administration will pursue funding for existing multilateral initiatives involved in the COVID-19 response, such as Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Global Fund. The administration also directed a review to ensure sufficient funding is allocated for the COVID-19 response, global health security, pandemic preparedness, and biodefense needs.

CARE has continually supported robust funding for the global response as well as investments in gender equality. Funding for existing humanitarian emergencies remains vitally important, and Congress should also ensure future relief proposals include funding to prevent, mitigate, and respond to GBV globally.

5. Ensuring Sanctions Do Not Inhibit Humanitarian Relief Efforts

The Biden administration directed a prompt review of existing U.S. and multilateral financial and economic sanctions “to evaluate whether they are unduly hindering responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” and provide recommendations for any changes.

CARE believes humanitarian access must be safeguarded, and barriers reduced, to ensure a principled humanitarian response. The United States should also provide a humanitarian exemption for funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as its expertise in managing GBV prevention, mitigation, and response play an essential role in ensuring critical services and supplies reach the communities that need it most.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge worldwide, CARE is fighting alongside the most vulnerable and marginalized people, particularly women and girls, to prevent and respond to the pandemic. Now, as vaccines are rolled out, CARE is focused on equitable and sustainable COVID-19 relief, including affordable access to vaccines for all, especially in the hardest-to-reach places. Use your voice now: Tell the U.S. Government to ensure we pay our fair share for fast and fair vaccine distribution to combat COVID-19 globally.

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