On December 6th, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francaphonie collaborated with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights to host the new Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem on her first official visit to Canada, in honour of the launch of the UNFPA’s 2017 State of World Population (SWOP) Report entitlted “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Ange of Inequality.” The occasion was marked with a parliamentary dinner with CAPPD Chair Dr. Hedy Fry, followed by a series of bilateral meetings between Dr. Kanem and Canadian development experts and ending with a public speakers’ panel event at Global Affairs Canada.
According to the 2017 SWOP report, countries could face continued unrest and threats to peace and development unless wealth inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women and girls are empowered to make decisions about their own lives. The reinstatement of the USA’s Global Gag Rule has opened an approximate $9.4 billion gap in global health funding, impacting health facilities, lawful safe abortion services, family planning and contraceptive counselling around the world. Momentum has been building to fill the gaps, and Canada is taking a leading role in championing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The events were well attended and succeeded in strengthening relations between the UNFPA and Canada. At the SWOP event, Minister Bibeau announced the renewal of $15.8 Million from Canada to the UNFPA’s core funding.
While Canada and other donors continue to support greater access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, 89 million unintended pregnancies occur annually and the demand for family planning by women in the poorest 20 percent of households is not met given existing barriers.