Canada announced on Friday it will dedicate $150 million over the next five years to help promote the rights of women and girls living in extreme poverty around the world.
The Feminist International Assistance Policy is being touted as the largest investment of its kind from any country, and is the Liberals’ latest attempt to frame itself as a global champion for reproductive health as the U.S. backtracks on its funding commitments on the issue at home and abroad.
“Sustainable development, peace and growth that works for everyone, are not possible unless women and girls are valued and empowered,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s international development minister, said at a press conference. She explained that the plan was launched following 300 consultations with 65 countries, and at least half of the funds will go towards countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The funding — part of the department’s existing budget — was first announced in Parliament on Tuesday by Canada’s foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland during a speech that outlined a new vision for the country’s place in the world that also suggested the Liberals would be relying less on the U.S.
Prior to the creation of this fund, the Netherlands was the world’s largest donor to women’s rights abroad after it allocated 77 million Euros towards similar initiatives, according to a news release from the minister’.
In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would spend $650 million over the next three years to help fund reproductive health and education programs. This included funds to fill the void for abortion-related services left after President Donald Trump announced his administration would reinstate a Reagan-era policy dubbed “global gag rule,” which expands the government’s policy of withholding funding for international groups that provide abortions or anything linked to the procedure.
Recent news reports have documented how that policy will impact the millions of women in developing nations who rely on such funding for basic health care, contraceptives, and abortions. The funding cuts would also extend to clinics working to prevent and treat health conditions such as malaria and HIV/AIDS if those clinics provide any other services related to abortions such as counselling or post-abortion care.
Canada’s international development department has yet to announce exactly where that previously announced $650 million is going. A spokesperson told VICE News in May it will go towards “a range of partners” including Canadian and local organizations.