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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Canada’s $20M pledge for sexual and reproductive health and welcome, but more needed to address gap

Canada’s $20M pledge for sexual and reproductive health and welcome, but more needed to address gap

March 2, 2017

Canadian civil society leaders in Brussels as part of the Canadian delegation for the She Decides funding conference welcomed International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s initial pledge today of $20M to address for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), saying it was in line with other Governments and an important first step in the right direction. But that more is needed.

“While this new funding helps, the political and financial impacts created by the re-enactment of the U.S. Global Gag Rule will continue to deepen,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, who along with Oxfam Canada’s Executive Director Julie Delahanty is among the two NGO representatives on the Canadian official delegation in Brussels.

In monetary terms, the new Global Gad Rule could impact as much $9.458 billion in global health funding, and result in the closure of health facilities around the world, the denial of lawful safe abortion services, and a chill-effect on all related care, including family planning and contraceptive counselling.

“Trump’s policy represents a gross violation of women’s rights and runs counter to the global trend of liberalizing abortion laws that has resulted in significant decreases in unsafe abortions,” adds Prasad.

Delahanty says that “While Canada’s pledge is a strong step in the right direction, now is a critical moment for Canada to demonstrate political will and scale up funding for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women and youth in developing countries, and for gender equality programmes more broadly.”

Both Prasad and Delahanty are looking forward to future announcements that will support the full scale Future Planning Initiative, a plan put forth by a group of Canadian and global civil society organizations to empower 18 million adolescents and young women with full access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The group is also asking Governments to denounce the Global Gag Rule as an unacceptable assault on the international community’s common goals and developing countries’ own priorities, to announce a concrete amount of funding for safe abortion care as part of a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services, and to invest in the advocacy efforts of feminist organizations to help safeguard women’s and girls’ rights.

“The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule could have the most harmful and far reaching impact on people living in poverty of all recent executive orders. It claws backs the rights and endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of women worldwide. Thankfully progressive governments like Canada are stepping up and showing their commitment to women’s rights,” adds Delahanty.

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