Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday at the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver that Canada is committing CAD$1.4 billion annually starting in 2023 to support women and children’s health and reproductive rights around the world. Scaling up over three years starting in 2020, this 10-year commitment will renew and increase Canada’s investment in these crucial areas. 

“Advocates like those at Women Deliver are leaders in the fight for gender equality and women’s rights – and as a government, we have to stand with you as a partner and an ally,” Trudeau said in a statement. “All women, no matter where they live, should have access to the safe, quality health care they need. By investing in sexual and reproductive health rights and maternal, newborn, and child health, we can build a more just, equal, and prosperous world.”

This commitment includes a CAD $700 million annual investment in sexual and reproductive health and rights, including neglected areas such as ensuring access to modern contraception and comprehensive sexual education, as well as for maternal and neonatal care.

The Women Deliver Conference has brought together gender equality activists, NGOs, corporations, institutions, and world leaders from over 165 countries to drive progress on the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls everywhere. 

This historic new commitment at this crucial moment is in response to the actions of over 36,000 Global Citizens, including nearly 12,000 Canadians, who signed a petition calling on Canada to support the Thrive Agenda — a bold plan co-developed by Global Citizen and Canadian partners that called for long-term, sustainable Canadian aid for women and children’s health, nutrition and reproductive rights around the world. Today, the government delivered, building on Canada’s strong track record on these issues dating back to the previous government’s Muskoka Initiative for maternal, newborn and child health in 2010. 

With Canada’s current global health aid package scheduled to expire in early 2020, Global Citizen’s Thrive campaign aimed to ensure not only that it was renewed, but also increased to fill critical gaps, especially around neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights — in which others can’t or won’t invest. 

For example, there are an estimated 214 million women worldwide who want to avoid pregnancy, but can’t access modern contraception and family planning services. This threatens their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. It also raises additional health risks around pregnancy and childbirth, with nearly 5 million mothers and children still dying each year from preventable causes in 50 countries with the greatest need, according to the Global Financing Facility

The Thrive Agenda was developed through a unique partnership of over 40 organizations that began almost a year ago. Global Citizen’s campaign partner, the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) played a key leadership role within the coalition and also supported the petition. 

“Global Citizen is a leader in harnessing the power of partnership to drive public dialogue. The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health is privileged and grateful to work alongside Global Citizen to champion the Thrive Agenda,” Julia Anderson, acting executive director of CanWaCH, said. “Thanks to Global Citizen, we have been able to demonstrate to decision-makers that this is an issue that matters to tens of thousands of our fellow Global Citizens in Canada and around the world. They are standing up, speaking out and taking bold action to realize a world where women, adolescents and children, no matter where they live, have an opportunity to thrive.”

Today’s commitment helps lay the groundwork for future Canadian support for critical global health initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Global Financing Facility for women and children’s health, nutrition and rights; UNFPA Supplies, a leading fund dedicated to expanding access to contraception and family planning services; the Global Polio Eradication Initiative; and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Global Citizen will continue working together with partners and the Canadian government to ensure accountability and help bring this immense and meaningful commitment to fruition. 


Defeat Poverty

Canada Just Made a Massive Commitment to Women and Children's Health and Reproductive Rights

By Jonah Kanter