Canada announces support aimed at improving the health and rights of women and girls

News release

November 24, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on health systems everywhere, disproportionally impacting women and girls around the world. To mitigate this impact, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, participated in the 27th Canadian Conference on Global Health where he announced $325 million in funding for eleven projects with Canadian health partners. This is part of Canada’s ten-year commitment to global health and rights. This investment, spread over five to seven years, will help key partners to increase access to essential services, as well as promote gender equality and transform decision-making structures that reinforce and perpetuate inequality, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Canada remains committed, now more than ever, to delivering on our Feminist International Assistance Policy. This policy puts women and girls at the centre of its development efforts – including by ensuring that health systems meet their needs through support for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The funded projects will focus on SRHR and on improving the quality of and access to integrated health services by women, adolescents and children. Access to SRHR is critical to advancing health, gender equality, human rights, and empowering women and adolescent girls. When that focus is lost, the number of maternal deaths goes up, more teenage girls drop out of school, and women lose their right to participate equally in all aspects of society.

Today’s investment will enable key partners to support the most marginalized children, adolescents, women and girls with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights services as core components of essential health services.


“Women and girls must be able to decide what to do with their bodies, their lives and their future. And we will be there to help ensure that every woman and girl has that right. By working with partners, we are ensuring that women and girls are empowered to make decisions about their bodies, their lives and their future, despite the impact of the pandemic. Together, we can advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to improve the lives of women, adolescent girls and children.”

- Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

Quick facts

  • Canada is committed to supporting women and girls with access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information. Advancing SRHR includes investing in family planning and modern contraceptives, preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, supporting a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion, as well as strengthening national health systems to provide comprehensive SRHR services.

  • In June 2019, at the Women Deliver Conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a historic, 10-year investment of $1.4 billion annually, starting in 2023, to support the health of women and girls in all their diversity around the world, with $700 million of the annual investment dedicated to sexual and reproductive health rights.

  • Global maternal and fetal outcomes have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in maternal deaths, and stillbirth.

  • Due to COVID-19, the United National Population Fund estimates that 12 million women globally have experienced contraceptive access interruptions, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.

  • One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, and since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls has emerged as a shadow pandemic according to UN Women.

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Office of the Minister of International Development

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