Backgrounder Article from  Global Affairs Canada

Backgrounder - Canada's support for United Nations Population Fund to help women and girls

The support announced today by Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, totals up to $81.6 million in funding for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) initiatives, as follows.

Renewed institutional funding (calendar year 2016; $15.6 million)

UNFPA uses its institutional funding, which comes from Canada and other donors, to achieve its core mandate and functions, including with respect to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The expected outcomes of Canada’s support include:

  • increased access to sexual and reproductive health services that are gender sensitive and that meet human rights standards for quality of care and equal access;
  • the development of policies and programs that prioritize adolescent girls, particularly with regard to health services;
  • accelerated progress in the empowerment of women and girls, including action on sexual and reproductive health services and rights; and
  • increased use of data based on facts to develop national policies and international development programs that will address gaps in reproductive rights and in health services.

Strengthening midwifery services in South Sudan (fiscal years 2015-2020; $50 million)

South Sudan has among the world’s highest maternal, newborn and child mortality rates. One reason for this is a critical shortage of skilled maternal, newborn and child health care providers.

Canada’s support for this initiative will help reduce maternal and newborn mortality in South Sudan by building the capacity of front-line health care providers, especially midwives, in the country. More than any other health professionals, midwives have the potential to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, in this case by up to two thirds. Midwives who are trained and regulated to meet international standards can also provide 87 percent of the care that mothers and newborns require to survive.

This project will focus on training additional health care providers—primarily midwives, but also nurses and clinical officers—at four health science training institutes currently supported by Global Affairs Canada and at two additional training institutes in South Sudan.

The project is implemented in partnership with the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM). CAM will provide direct peer-to-peer mentoring support and technical expertise from practising Canadian midwives and maternal and child health professionals.

Prevention of adolescent pregnancies in Honduras (fiscal years 2016-2021; $11 million)

Honduras has the second highest rate of adolescent pregnancies in the western hemisphere. This leads to high drop-out rates from school, maternal and child illness, poverty, migration, and child, early and forced marriage or unions. Canada’s support for this initiative is expected to:

  • strengthen protection of the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents;
  • improve the coverage and quality of adolescent health care services, including comprehensive sex education, for the prevention of adolescent pregnancies; and
  • strengthen strategic alliances between key governmental, civil society and private sector parties to help prevent adolescent pregnancies.

Contraceptive supplies initiative ($5 million)

An estimated 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception. Reasons for this include:

  • limited choice of methods;
  • limited access to contraception, particularly among young people, poorer segments of populations or unmarried people;
  • fear or experience of side-effects;
  • cultural or religious opposition;
  • poor quality of available services;
  • users’ and providers’ bias; and
  • gender-based barriers.

The unmet need for contraception remains too high. This inequity is fuelled by both a growing population and a shortage of family planning services. In Africa, 23.2 percent of women of reproductive age have an unmet need for modern contraception. In Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean—regions with relatively high contraceptive prevalence—the levels of unmet need are 10.9 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively. In line with Canada’s efforts to prioritize maternal, newborn and child health programming based on evidence and to close certain existing gaps in reproductive health, Canada will support UNFPA to deliver on a contraceptive supplies initiative, in an aim to improve the health of women.

Background on UNFPA

UNFPA’s mandate is to support countries by using population data to develop policies and programs that reduce poverty and ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. UNFPA focuses on three main areas: reproductive health and rights, gender equality, and population and development strategies.

Canada and UNFPA have worked closely for almost 50 years and will continue to collaborate in a variety of development areas, including sexual and reproductive health and rights; women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health; ending child, early and forced marriage; and certain humanitarian contexts.

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Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau Global Affairs Canada Government and Politics

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