Minister Sajjan announces new initiative to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global south

News release

June 15, 2023 – Ottawa, Canada - Global Affairs Canada

Canada supports the goal of ensuring that women and girls in all their diversity can decide what to do with their bodies, their lives and their futures – without question. In 2019, Canada made an historic 10-Year Commitment to improve the health and rights of women and girls around the world. This commitment includes $700 million per year to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), with an emphasis on supporting 5 particularly neglected and underfunded areas of SRHR.  

Yesterday, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, announced the launch of a new Canadian signature initiative called “SheSOARS”. The Minister made the announcement at an event held in Ottawa hosted by the Future Planning Initiative coalition and the Canadian Parliamentary Association for Population and Development (CAPPD).

The SheSOARS signature initiative will span seven years (2023-2030) and is funded under Canada’s $700-million annual commitment to advance comprehensive SRHR. SheSOARS will focus on project-level initiatives in three areas: advancing sexual and reproductive health services, particularly in neglected areas; protecting SRHR in fragile contexts; and standing up and advocating for SRHR at all levels to advance comprehensive and country-led SRHR priorities.

Additional details about SheSOARS will be shared by the Minister at the Women Deliver conference in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2023. The conference is among the world’s largest gatherings on gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and girls. 

Canada will continue to demonstrate leadership and advocate for global health, nutrition and SRHR for the most marginalised, especially women, girls and adolescents.


“In the face of a growing backlash against women’s rights, it is more important than ever that we support the bodily autonomy of women and girls. Canada is ramping up efforts in neglected, under-funded and over-politicized areas of SRHR that evidence shows will save lives, support the empowerment of diverse groups of women and girls, and contribute to gender equality. In this vein, Canada is proudly prioritizing family planning, safe abortion and post-abortion care, comprehensive sexuality education, advocacy for SRHR and preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, with a focus on Africa.”

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

Quick facts

  • June 2023 marks four years since Prime Minister Trudeau announced a ten-year commitment (2021-2030) to increase Canada’s funding to reach an average of $1.4 billion annually by 2023 to improve the health and rights of women and girls, half of which is dedicated to SRHR. Canada is on track to hit its target of investing $700 million in comprehensive SRHR this fiscal year.

  • The Guttmacher Institute has shown that Canada’s historic commitment to SRHR is already making a big impact. In 2020-2021 alone, Canada’s investments in family planning enabled an estimated 2.5 million couples to have access to modern contraceptive methods. These investments, in turn, have prevented an estimated 1.1 million unintended pregnancies and saved approximately 1,800 lives.

  • Supporting comprehensive SRHR means enabling all individuals to have the rights, knowledge, and means to make decisions and access services concerning their reproductive lives and sexuality, free from criminalization, coercion, discrimination and violence.

  • The 2018 Guttmacher-Lancet Commission Report “Accelerate Progress – SRHR for all” highlighted an important unfinished agenda. In particular, it noted the need for increased investment in “SRHR Neglected areas”, including: safe abortion and post-abortion care, sexual and gender-based violence, comprehensive sexuality education, family planning and contraception, as well as advocacy.

Associated links


Haley Hodgson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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