Canada's global leadership on women's rights

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces significant funding for women's sexual and reproductive health and rights at an International Women's Day panel in Ottawa, March 8th 2017.

Inter Pares is deeply appreciative of the funding announcement made today, on International Women's Day, by the Government of Canada of $650 million over 3 years to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)of women and girls around the world. As one of the civil society organizations involved in the Future Planning Initiative calling on Canada to demonstrate significant leadership in this area to fill the global gaps in SRHR funding, we are pleased that today's 3 year funding announcement from Global Affairs Canada will assist women and girls to take control of their bodies, their fertility and ultimately, their lives. See the text of the press release below by one of the lead collaborators in the Future Planning Initiative, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, for more information.

New funding for sexual and reproductive rights an important step towards Canada’s global leadership on women’s rights

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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