Canada is committed to working with Canadian and global partners to uphold and promote the health and rights of women and girls, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Earlier this week, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, and Arielle Kayabaga, Member of Parliament for London West, took part in the 2023 Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. While at the conference, they participated in many events and had the opportunity to meet with other policy leaders, activists, women’s rights organizations and youth, to highlight Canada’s continued leadership and support for them to advance gender equality and comprehensive SRHR, including support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
During a panel discussion on SRHR, bodily autonomy and abortion rights, Minister Sajjan announced more than $200 million in funding for new projects. The projects are part of Canada’s SheSOARS initiative, funded as part of the 10-Year Commitment to Global Health and Rights. Projects funded under SheSOARS support neglected and underfunded areas of SRHR, including family planning, comprehensive sexuality education, advocacy for SRHR, safe abortion and post-abortion care, and sexual and gender-based violence.
During a side event to discuss strategies to end child, early and forced marriage, co-hosted by the Government of Canada, UNFPA, UNICEF, and Girls Not Brides, Minister Sajjan announced an allocation of $35 million, as part of the $ 200 million SheSOARS package, for the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage, and $3 million for the Girls Not Brides project. During his remarks, Minister Sajjan underscored the need for urgent action to end child marriage because, without additional commitments to this issue, over 80 million girls will be forced to marry between now and 2030.
At a reception with MSI Reproductive Choices, MP Kayabaga announced a $10-million allocation for MSI for the “Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights project” – also part of Canada’s SheSOARS initiative – to help reach thousands of women and girls in Africa, Asia and Latin America each year with lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services.
During a pre-conference event on strengthening care policies, MP Kayabaga announced $25 million in funding for a project, in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, that will work directly with women leaders, local experts, and local institutions to scale up solutions for women’s unpaid care work. She also announced $5.2 million for Oxfam Canada’s Time to Care project, which addresses gender norms and supports progressive care policies. These investments support a care economy that empowers and includes women and girls, and are part of Canada’s $100-million commitment to address inequalities in unpaid and paid care work internationally.
On the margins of the conference, Minister Sajjan met with several Rwandan government representatives, including Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana. This discussion centered around how Rwanda tackles challenges in the health sector, and on Canada’s Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP) program. Minister Sajjan and MP Kayabaga also met with Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Ildephonse Musafiri, to discuss Rwandan priorities in agriculture and Canada’s approach to agriculture and food security under its Feminist International Assistance Policy, including with regard to fertilizer and women’s economic empowerment. The discussion with Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, was about avenues to further deepen bilateral relations between Canada and Rwanda.
During the conference, Minister Sajjan, Minister Ien and MP Kayaba, met with President Paul Kagame to discuss regional security and congratulate Rwanda for hosting the Women Deliver Conference.
Minister Ien also visited the Skills, Leadership, Education (CLE) Program implemented by Forum for African Women Educationalists to learn about education and sexual and reproductive health education programs funded by Canada.
The Canadian delegation also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a place of remembrance and learning dedicated to the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Minister Sajjan is accompanied by MP Kayabaga in Tanzania, where he will visit projects supported by the Government of Canada focusing on health, SRHR, inclusive economic growth, nutrition and food security, and meet with officials to discuss issues in the region and Canada’s ongoing commitment to Tanzania.