Canada Just Put $241.5M to Fund Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Around the World
The new feminist international assistance policy isn’t all talk.
After announcing its new feminist international assistance policy just over a month ago, Canada’s federal government has kept its commitment to women and girls by announcing $241.5 million in funding for projects supporting sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, made the announcement at the Family Planning Summit in London on Tuesday.
“Canada will lend its voice on the world stage to defend the sexual and reproductive rights of women and adolescent girls. Women's empowerment begins with the right of all women and adolescents to be in control of their bodies and make their own decisions,” Minister Bibeau said in a statement.
This investment is part of Canada’s $650-million commitment to SRHR funding announced in March, and $840 million for humanitarian assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria and the impact of these crises on Jordan and Lebanon, according to Global Affairs Canada.
The government’s new feminist policy states that the best way to reduce poverty is to focus on an approach that puts women and girls at the heart of international assistance.
Canada recognizes the essential role family planning plays in the empowerment of women and girls, including in humanitarian settings, according to Global Affairs Canada.
In a statement, the government explained the funding announced in London will support projects that provide sexuality education, strengthen reproductive health services, and invest in family planning and contraceptives.
It will also support organizations that work with local women’s groups, and work to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, as well as child and forced marriages. It will also encourage the right to choose safe and legal abortions and increase access to post-abortion care.
Every $1 spent on contraceptive services in developing regions saves $2.30 in maternal and newborn health care services because of declines in unplanned pregnancies, according to Global Affairs Canada.
About 65% of the $241.5 million will be used to fund projects in Africa. Some of that funding includes $20 million for SRHR for adolescents and young women in Nigeria, $15 million for comprehensive sexual education and reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Ghana, $20 million for access to health services in Kinshasa, and $18.5 million for supporting family planning and abortion services in Mozambique.
There are 19 projects in total that will receive funding, including contributions to Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Sudan. Canada will contribute $6.5 million to the United Nations Population Fund under the Syria crisis for the health and prevention of gender-based violence in Jordan, as well as $20 million for family health houses for Afghanistan, among its other initiatives.
"We definitely need to invest more and to bring new partners around the table to reach the objective of the Family Planning 2020 agenda which is to reach an additional 120 million women to offer them … access to contraception," Bibeau said from the Family Planning Summit.
Canada will work with Family Planning 2020, the Ouagadougou Partnership, and the #SheDecides campaign to counter the existing funding gap in SRHR that was left after US President Donald Trump pulled funding to certain women’s health organizations.
#SheDecides is a global movement initiated as a response to Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule. It is an initiative that is trying to raise funds to make up for the funding gap created by new US policy.
About 830 women die every day from pregnancy or childbirth complications. This is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in developing countries. An estimated 22 million women and girls experience unsafe abortions.
With this announcement, as well as Trudeau’s announcement back in March, Canada’s government intends to incite 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives and family planning services. Canada plans for these initiatives to provide critical SRHR services and information, while advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.