PM Trudeau increasing funding for global women's health to $1.4 billion
OTTAWA – The federal government will gradually be increasing its annual commitment to funding for international sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, hitting and maintaining $1.4 billion annually, starting in 2023.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the 10-year funding announcement at the Women Deliver Conference that Canada is hosting in Vancouver. The conference, billed as the world's largest gathering on women’s rights, is being attended by several heads of state and a slate of federal cabinet ministers.
Trudeau said the increase will include $700 million a year starting in 2023 specifically for sexual and reproductive health initiatives. He said this will make Canada a leading donor when it comes to this kind of international aid.
Canada currently spends $1.1 billion on women's health services worldwide, and $400 million on sexual and reproductive health
"This is a game changer that will empower 18 million women and girls in developing countries by 2030," Trudeau said. "Canada is not just speaking up, we're stepping up."
This pledge expands on the government's 2017 commitment to $650 million over three years to address gaps in sexual and reproductive health globally. That initial pledge followed U.S. President Donald Trump banning funding for any international groups that perform abortions or educate about abortions. Advocates said the loss of the U.S. money left a sizeable funding gap.
According to federal statistics, every two minutes a women dies from complications from pregnancy or childbirth, 25 million unsafe abortions take place annually, and in developing countries, 214 million are in need of contemporary forms of contraception.
The announcement was met with some immediate reaction, Action Canada, which advocates for sexual health and rights in Canada and internationally, praised the move.
"Canada is putting its weight behind the sexual and reproductive rights of women, girls and other marginalized groups at a time of push-back against these issues around the world," said Action Canada's executive director Sandeep Prasad.
The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) said that this commitment to spending $1.4 billion every year for 10 years starting in 2023 would "have a significant impact" towards empowering women and girls around the world.
"We are pleased to see this important contribution to fulfilling Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy," said CCIC president and CEO Nicolas Moyer in a statement. "Today's announcement comes following a sustained initiative by Canadian civil society organizations to build a case for investing in strong Canadian leadership in support of women, adolescent and children’s health and rights around the world," he said.
Trudeau also used his platform at the major international gathering to speak to his domestic audience.
"There are politicians here in Canada who have called our governments investments 'exporting an ideological agenda.' Well, we couldn't disagree more. This should not be a political issue, these divisions are playing out globally with devastating consequences and women deserve better," Trudeau said, citing comments made by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer during his 2017 leadership bid.