Global leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights

protext SRHR globally

Canada has become a leader in the face of global backlash against women’s rights and reproductive rights, and yet the health and lives of women and girls around the world is STILL at risk.

In recent years, Canada has boldly stepped up in defense of women’s rights and sexual and reproductive rights, in part by pledging development assistance for the neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights through to 2030. This includes the June 2019 announcement of $1.4B annually to global health development assistance, with $700M/year directed at sexual and reproductive health and rights. Canada must continue its leadership and deliver on the commitments it has made.

Why should Canada prioritize its global commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights?

  • Canada is uniquely positioned to help fill gaps where sexual and reproductive health services have been affected by rising populist attacks on women’s rights, including the U.S. Global Gag Rule, and increasing inequality around the globe.
  • Many areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights remain stigmatized, excluded, and underfunded, making it even harder for the most vulnerable and marginalized people to realize their rights – Canada can help fill these gaps.
  • It’s the law: Canada’s human rights obligations to sexual and reproductive health and rights are established in national legislation, human rights law, and various global consensus documents to which Canada is party.
  • It’s a key factor in achieving the targets set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to which Canada has signed onto.

The most neglected and stigmatized areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights require targeted support and political leadership. Investment in the neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights would help fill critical gaps and support the human rights of populations that face discrimination and marginalization. The neglected areas include:

  • Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, including quality sex-ed 
  • Access to contraceptives
  • Access to safe abortion
  • Advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Sexual and reproductive health services in emergency settings

A Canadian global sexual and reproductive rights policy is needed to action and sustain Canada’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights within its development assistance and foreign policy. Without a policy, Canada risks not meeting the ambitious targets set out in its Feminist International Assistance Policy, continued stigma around the neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and failing to reach the most marginalized populations.

What Canada can do right now to remain a global women’s rights champion

  • Meet the international commitment of 0.7% GNI to official development assistance, with earmarked funds for the neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Create a Canadian global sexual and reproductive rights policy.
  • Establish a clear accountability framework for the implementation of Canada’s annual investment of $700M/year for SRHR, including clear targets for investments in the neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Adopt feminist principles to guide all funding related decisions, ensuring that initiatives address power and structural barriers to gender equality.
  • Direct investment in feminist, women’s rights, and youth organizations and movements in the Global South working on sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly those engaging in legal and policy advocacy.
Updated on 2019-09-04
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