Canada supports greater access to contraceptives and medicines for women and girls worldwide

13 November 2018
UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem (left) with Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, at the fifth International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali, Rwanda. © UNFPA/Usenabasi Esiet

With a CAD10 million contribution, Canada continues its support for UNFPA’s work to expand access to a secure, reliable supply of quality contraceptives and maternal health medicines for poor and marginalized women and girls worldwide.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced the new funding for UNFPA Supplies on 13 November during this year’s International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Kigali, Rwanda.

“For Canada, sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights,” said Ms. Bibeau, noting that access to modern contraceptives plays a key role in empowering women – with an especially transformative impact on the most marginalized.

UNFPA Supplies is the world’s largest provider of donated contraceptives, reaching 20 million people every year, and the main global provider of reproductive health supplies during humanitarian emergencies. The programme works in 46 countries to provide contraceptives and maternal health medicines, while strengthening supply chains so that women and girls can access their choice of contraceptives no matter where they live.

The new contribution builds on Canada’s history of strong support for UNFPA, in line with the emphasis on gender equality that guides its approach to international development cooperation.

In 2017 Canada was the 8th biggest donor for combined contributions to UNFPA, with contributions totalling $46.5 million, including $12.1 million to core resources and $34.4 million in co-financing. In 2018 Canada increased its co-financing contributions by more than 370 per cent, to $104.4 million, to support a range of programming, including the census in Haiti, midwifery and maternal health in Senegal and Afghanistan, and humanitarian assistance in fragile countries.

Canada contributed CAD10 million to UNFPA Supplies in 2017, earmarked for programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali in 2017 and 2018. The funds were dedicated to providing emergency contraception, ensuring access to reproductive health information and services for adolescents and youth, and strengthening supply chain management.

The renewed support comes at a time when UNFPA Supplies is working to enhance and adapt its own operations, as the international community assembled at the ICFP engages in discussions around the future of reproductive health commodity security and financing. The programme is working to improve its governance structure for greater accountability; to better shape markets and deliver value for money; and more effectively support countries in strengthening service delivery supply chains and domestic resource mobilization in a sustainable way.

In light of a projected $350 million funding gap facing UNFPA Supplies over 2018-2020, UNFPA is engaging in further dialogue with Canada and other donors regarding additional support for the coming years.

The case for support could not be stronger. Universal access to family planning has been estimated to reduce maternal deaths by a quarter and child deaths by as much as a fifth. Preventing unintended pregnancies saves money that countries can use to fund critical services like education and health care. And by boosting women’s labour force participation and their earnings potential, investments in family planning and other essential reproductive health services offer remarkable returns, yielding $120 for every $1 invested.

“Upholding the right to family planning is not only a moral imperative,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem during the ICFP. “It is also a path to shared prosperity and sustainable development.”