Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that part of the funds Canada committed during the Muskoka Initiative in 2010 will go towards nine projects to help improve the health of women and children in developing countries.
“These cover a range of issues in this particular area that will improve the health of mothers and children and will strengthen immunization efforts in developing countries,” Harper said.
Harper made the announcement at the United Nations on Wednesday, during an event focusing on women’s and children’s health.
The $203.55 million announced today is part of the $1.1 billion that Canada committed to the $7-billion Muskoka Initiative to improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries.
At the time, Canada also announced it would maintain the ongoing spending of $1.75 billion in maternal, newborn and child health programming between 2010 and 2015, resulting in a total commitment of $2.85 billion over five years.
“Canada, with two-thirds of our commitment already distributed, will fulfil our Muskoka pledges by 2015, ” Harper said.
Today’s event was supported by the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and organized in support of the United Nations secretary general’s Every Woman, Every Child Initiative.
Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird are co-hosting the UN meeting as part of a followup to his 2010 G8 commitment to focus on maternal and child health.
Baird’s session, at 3:30 p.m. ET, will cover early, child and forced marriage, an issue he has spoken out against in the past.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development announced earlier this week that the government is funding a website intended to help women connect and share best business practices, according to a news release.
The global Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment “will support women’s economic opportunities and leadership and further their contributions to local economies,” the release said.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) developed the site, empowerwomen.org.
Global goals set for 2015
Harper’s meeting is listed on a UN website as “The unfinished agenda of the MDGs [Millenium Development Goals] in support of Every Woman Every Child.” It’s a 90-minute session with the presidents of Tanzania and Nigeria, as well as the prime minister of Norway, the director general of the World Health Organization, and Melinda Gates, on behalf of the foundation she runs with husband Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is the event’s other co-host. Harper and Kikwete have worked together since 2010 on making international aid more accountable.
Harper took advantage of Canada hosting the 2010 G8 Muskoka Initiative meeting to steer leaders toward a focus on maternal, newborn and child health, pledging $1.1 billion for Canada until 2015. The UN has set 2015 as the deadline for hitting its Millenium Development Goals, a series of targets for reducing global poverty.
The MDGs include goals to reduce mortality for children under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, to cut maternal deaths by 75 per cent over the same time period, and to achieve universal access to reproductive health care by 2015.