March 8 2017 – For immediate release
Leading Canadian civil society organizations welcome Prime Minister Trudeau and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s announcement made today, on International Women’s Day, of 650 million to be invested over 3 years towards sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
The announcement comes on the heels of Canada’s $20 million pledge to address SRHR funding gaps created by Trump’s Global Gag Rule.
Today’s funding commitment will go a long way towards meeting Minister Bibeau’s mandate to ensure that “Canada’s valuable development focus on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health is driven by evidence and outcomes, not ideology, including by closing existing gaps in reproductive rights and health care for women.” The announcement also aligns with Global Affairs Canada’s recent international assistance review, which signals a scaling-up of investments in sexual and reproductive healthcare and a feminist approach to development assistance. By focusing on funding for contraception, safe abortion, sexuality education and advocacy for SRHR, Canada is filling the gaps in the Muskoka Initiative that many civil society organizations have been pushing to see rectified.
“Investing in sexual and reproductive health and rights is an investment in human rights that has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year and millions of unwanted pregnancies,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is one of six leading Canadian civil society organizations that have been calling on the Government to take these commitments forward under the banner of the Future Planning Initiative, a plan to empower 18 million adolescent and young women with full access to SRHR.
With every single dollar spent, Canada is preventing hundreds of thousands of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths and pregnancy related injuries.
“Today’s announcement is a cause for celebration and very much aligned with what civil society organizations are asking through the Future Planning Initiative, but a global funding shortfall for SRHR remains,” says Julia Sanchez, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.
This shortfall existed before the re-enactment of the Global Gag Rule and will continue to persist if donors like Canada do not continue to make substantial increases to their development assistance budgets for these issues. The Future Planning Initiative is asking Canada to mobilize $4.25 billion over the next 10 years for SRHR.
As the 2017 budget approaches, it is critical that Canada continue to build on successful initiatives like the one announced today with sustained increases in Canada’s development assistance envelope. Funding is urgent and Canada is taking a stand: women and girls’ rights around the world can no longer be ignored. But these gaps need to be filled fast. Millions of lives depend on it.
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Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
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NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The Global Gag Rule prohibits foreign organizations funded by the U.S. from providing any information, counselling, referrals or advocacy related to safe abortion services. President Trump’s version of the Global Gag Rule extends to all global health assistance provided across U.S. departments, including programming for maternal health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
The Future Planning Initiative seeks to mobilize Canadian leadership on global sexual and reproductive health and rights to empower 18 million adolescents and young women in the world’s most vulnerable communities. The same number as all girls and women in Canada today. By giving adolescents and young women more control over their bodies with full access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the Initiative provides the foundation to realize other rights and plan for their future—to complete education, to pursue employment, to decide whether or when to have a family. With new funding of $4.25 billion over 10 years, Canada would become a global leader in empowering women through SRHR. For more information, visit 18millionwomen.ca.
Founding members of the Future Planning Initiative include: Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Canada Partnership for Women and Children’s Health, Inter Pares, Global Canada, and Oxfam Canada. Sandeep Prasad along with representatives from the organizations listed are available for interview.