VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Trudeau government has made what’s being called a historic announcement about advancing the health and rights of women, adolescents and children around the world.
The prime minister said on Tuesday at the Women Deliver 2019 conference that his government would increase the country’s global investment in women’s health to $1.4 billion a year starting in 2023.
The Prime Minister says the government is increasing its investment to support women & girls’ health around the world to $1.4-billion. Half of that will be dedicated to sexual & reproductive health rights. #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) June 4, 2019
“At the opening of this conference, I talked about Canada’s responsibility to lead,” Justin Trudeau said at the event in Vancouver.
“Because, the unfortunate truth is that we live in a world where rights are increasingly under threat. Women don’t have to imagine not being able to access healthcare when they need it, they don’t have to imagine being denied the right to choose what’s best for their health and their future — for far too many people, that’s the reality, and that’s unacceptable.”
About half of the funding will be dedicated to sexual and reproductive health.
— CanadianPM (@CanadianPM) June 4, 2019
The federal government says the funding will help make sure women and girls have access to important health services, including safe and legal abortions. The money is also expected to help “support women’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies” through things like education and maternal and neonatal care.
Canada announced $650 million in funding over three years to address gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights globally in the spring of 2017.
A doubling of investments
The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health is applauding the federal government’s doubling of its investment, saying the country needs to continue to lead by example to protect the rights and health of women around the globe.
CanWaCH is a membership of non-governmental organizations, schools, health professional associations, and individuals that work to improve women and children’s health in more than 1,000 communities.
“This is a doubling of [Canada’s] investment in women and children’s health and rights work,” Julia Anderson, CanWaCH acting executive director, explains. “So currently, Canada is a leader in global women and children’s health and rights, as well as nutrition.”
However, despite being a leader globally in this space, Anderson says there’s more than needs to be done as the “global gap grows.”
“What we’re seeing is donors like the United States limiting, eliminating their funding, especially around — but it’s not even limited to — reproductive health,” she explains, saying this type of behaviour is behind the growing gap.
This is the reason why CanWaCH asked the federal government to “step up, dig in, and shake the piggy bank,” wherever it could to invest in this area.
“It not only saves lives, but it grows economies, increases security and all those good things as well,” Anderson notes.
She explains, from CanWaCH’s point of view, that Canada’s number one commitment should be to Indigenous communities, to clean drinking water, and to the Canadian health care system. However, Anderson says the country also has an important role to play around the world, and one of its goals should be to eliminate inequalities.
“Diseases don’t stop at borders. Economic insecurity crosses over borders. All those things, we’re living in a global society, and Canada needs to step up and be on that global stage,” she adds.
‘A war on women’s bodies’
With the topic of abortion and women’s rights being prominently discussed around the world, Anderson believes there’s a great need for more to be done to protect these rights.
“I have described it and I hate using the world ‘war’ lightly, I recognize the significance of the word ‘war,’ but there is a war on women’s bodies that is absolutely raging,” Anderson says.
She looks to countries where governments have rolled back on health issues — including in the U.S. — explaining the choice to do so is negatively impacting the women that live in those places.
Anderson says there are women dying all over the world because they don’t have access to safe or legal options when it comes to things like pregnancy. She believes if the global community doesn’t step up, a negative movement will take over.
“I believe that other donors will follow, because this is historic leadership,” she says of the investment.