Ottawa, 10 April 2019 — April 10th marks the global launch of UNFPA’s 2019 State of World Population Report Unfinished Business: the pursuit of rights for all. Only 2-weeks following Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule, the timing couldn’t be more crucial.
According to the report, which reviews progress and challenges over the last 50 years, while more people have access to information and services to decide if, when, and how many children to have, a lot remains to be done.
“Our combined actions over the past 50 years have unlocked opportunities and possibilities for women and girls across the globe,” says Alanna Armitage, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Yet, we still have a long way to go before all women and girls have the power and the means to govern their own bodies and make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”
The recent U.S. expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a direct attack on women’s rights—to exercise bodily autonomy and to access life-saving health services and information. Under the Global Gag Rule, non-US NGOs that provide or promote access to abortion are not eligible for US funding. With the expansion, this will also apply to any organization affiliated with any organization that receives USAID funding. Canadian organizations, and their partners, who receive any money from USAID-funded organizations (regardless of the ultimate source of the funds they receive) will be required to be compliant with the expanded Global Gag Rule, meaning that they will be prevented from engaging in work related to performing, referring, counselling, or advocating for access to safe abortion care.
Laws and policies, like the Global Gag Rule, driven by ideology over evidence are deeply harmful to people around the world and a violation of human rights.
“From being able to decide if, when, and how many children to have, to being able to freely express your sexual orientation and gender identity: sexual and reproductive health and rights are deeply personal and should not be politicized,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.
Regressive laws and policies like the rollback on the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario, the targeting of LGBTQ+ communities in Brunei, heavy restrictions on abortion before folks even know they’re pregnant in Mississippi, and direct attacks on women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are all examples of how sexual and reproductive health and rights are under attack at home and around the world.
“Harmful policies like the Global Gag Rule violate rights and put life-saving care out of reach for even more people and communities,” says Prasad. Canada has positioned itself as a champion for women and girls and gender equality and invested $650 million over three years in sexual and reproductive health and rights. But these funds expire in 2020. “Canada’s increased financial and political support to protect the rights of women, girls, and all people affected by the global backlash on sexual and reproductive rights is needed now more than ever” adds Prasad.
Along with our partners in the Future Planning Initiative, Action Canada is calling on Canada to invest a minimum of $500M per year for the most neglected and stigmatized areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights within what is being proposed as the “Thrive Initiative,” a renewed commitment of $1.4B to global health beginning in 2020 over 10 years.
25 years after the landmark International Conference on Population and Development, 50 years after the founding of the UNFPA, and in the lead-up to Women Deliver 2019, the pursuit for rights and choices must continue until they are a reality for all.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
NOTE TO EDITORS
- Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and Alanna Armitage, Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at UNFPA are available for interviews.
- Reception celebrating efforts to protect and expand SRHR: Wednesday April 10, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, Sidedoor Restaurant, 18b York St, Ottawa. Open to media, to register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTION CANADA FOR SEXUAL HEALTH & RIGHTS is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.
THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.