Justin Trudeau has pledged C$650 million (£396.5m) over the next three years to “close existing gaps in reproductive rights and healthcare for women” following Donald Trump’s global abortion funding cuts.
The move will see Canada double its current investment in women’s reproductive health services, the country’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event in Ottawa in honour of International Women’s Day, Trudeau said: “Far too many women and girls around the world see these rights violated.”
“In many cases, they’re subject to gender and sexual-based violence as well as harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and early forced marriage,” he said.
“And they run a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. It’s essential that these women have access to quality healthcare, modern contraception as well as sexual education and prevention services so that they can retain control of their bodies and exercise their rights.
“Like men, women should be able to choose. To choose when they want to start a family. How big their family should be and who they want to start that family with.”
He continued: “For far too many women and girls unsafe abortions and lack of choices in reproductive health mean that they either are... at risk of death or else simply cannot contribute and cannot achieve their potential through education, through involvement in their community [and] through a broad range of opportunities.
“It is important that as a world we recognise that empowering women, that respecting their rights is fundamental to building a world in which everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed and in which everyone can have all the rights and opportunities they deserve.”
The 45-year-old’s pledge comes after Trump announced in January that he would reinstate the “global gag order”.
The order, which is an ongoing battle between Democrats and Republicans, bans organisations around the world that receive federal aid from providing information about abortions or offering abortion services.
Historically, it has been used as a political football between Democratic and Republican presidents, who have reinstated or rescinded it depending on which party is in the White House.
Women’s rights campaigners fear the policy will have serious consequences on females around the world.
According to Marie Stopes International, an organisation that provides global abortion services, the funding cut to their activities alone will result in a projected 6.5 million unwanted pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions and 21,700 deaths over the next four years.
In January, the Netherlands started a global fund to help women access abortion services to plug the gap caused by Trump’s reinstatement of the order.
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde are also supporting the fund, according to Reuters.