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This week marked a controversial anniversary in the US—that of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that women have the right to an abortion. Add in the anniversary of the Women’s March, recent revelations of sexual harassment by men in high-profile roles, and controversial policy moves on access to family planning services, and it seems that the issue of women's empowerment and reproductive rights is more politically charged than ever. 

Today we hear from a country that's taken a strong stand in favor of women by creating a feminist international assistance policy. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, visited CGD to speak at our recent conference on family planning and women’s economic empowerment, and joined me on the podcast to discuss Canada’s new policy. 

“From now on, at least 15 percent of our bilateral contributions must be for women-targeted projects,” Bibeau tells me in the podcast, adding that almost all the others are requred to have a women’s empowerment component.

The new policy underscores the importance of focusing on women and family planning in global development efforts. For many girls around the world, Bibeau says, early pregnancy comes with gender-based violence and reduced access to education. “If we want to empower women economically, we have to take care of the girls,” Bibeau says. More on that in the clip below. 

 
At a time when other countries are pulling back support for family planning services, Canada is proud of its new policy. “This is our strong belief and we do not shy away and we talk about it honestly with evidence to support our policy, our priorities,” Bibeau says. “We really intend to be bold on the importance of women's empowerment, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

You can read more about the Birdsall Conference and the links between family planning and women's economic empowerment on our website.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.