Press Release: Civil Society Leaders Welcome $20M SRHR pledge, but Say More Needed to Counter New Gag Rule

Posted on March, 2 2017 by Action Canada

For Immediate Release

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 Gag 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 and in line with what has been announced by other Governments, 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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MEDIA CONTACTS:

Ani Colekessian
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
ani@sexualhealthandrights.ca
+1 613 241 4474 x7

Melanie Gallant
Oxfam Canada
Melanie.Gallant@oxfam.org

+1 613 240 3047

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  • The Global Gag Rule prohibits foreign organizations funded by the U.S. from providing any information, counselling, referrals or advocacy related to safe abortion services. President Trump’s version of the Global Gag Rule extends to all global health assistance provided across U.S. departments, including programming for maternal health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
  • The She Decides Ministerial Conference is hosted by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation and co-organized with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation. For more information, visit shedecides.com
  • The Future Planning Initiative seeks to mobilize Canadian leadership on global sexual and reproductive health and rights to empower 18 million adolescents and young women in the world’s most vulnerable communities. The same number as all girls and women in Canada today. By giving adolescents and young women more control over their bodies with full access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the Initiative provides the foundation to realize other rights and plan for their future—to complete education, to pursue employment, to decide whether or when to have a family. With new funding of $4.25 billion over 10 years, Canada will become a global leader in empowering women through SRHR. For more information, visit 18millionwomen.ca.
  • Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. For more information, visit sexualhealthandrights.ca
  • Oxfam Canada is part of a global movement for change made up of 19 Oxfam affiliates working in more than 90 countries to mobilize the power of people against poverty. Women’s rights and overcoming inequality are at the heart of everything we do.