Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth. For many women, the first sign can be missing a menstrual period or her period may be lighter or shorter than usual. For more information or if you have specific questions, contact your local Associate Organisation.

Annual Report 2016-2017

Whether it’s been campaigning for universal cost coverage of medical abortion, launching a cutting-edge resource for teaching sexuality education in schools, securing a major investment in global SRHR from the government Canada, offering thousands of people the health information they are looking for, or supporting sexual and reproductive rights defenders around the world to hold their governments accountable, we’ve been working tirelessly to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.

Read our Annual Report to learn about the significant strides we made in 2016-2017 »

Having trouble reading the report? Click here to download in PDF

Get Your Copy of Beyond the Basics Today!

Beyond the Basics is a resource for educators that offers the tools to teach young people about sexuality and sexual health from a sex positive, human rights perspective. Covering topics that range from anatomy to consent and healthy relationships, Beyond the Basics approaches sexuality education across all gender identities and sexual orientations with activities that help move students from receiving information to making decisions based on critical thinking skills and empowerment. Recognizing the time pressures educators face, Beyond the Basics is written to easily move in and out of chapters, modules, and activities that suit the particular age, maturity, and trust in each classroom.

Click here to purchase today!

Guidelines for the Implementation of Mother-Child Units in Canadian Correctional Facilities

Developed by the CCPHE and University of British Columbia, the publication describes guiding principles, and the practices that are required for optimal child and maternal health inside a correctional facility, including the correctional context, pregnancy, birth, education, correctional and medical care, discharge planning and community partner engagement.

Click here to read the publication

Have questions about your sexual and reproductive health?

The information hub on sexual and reproductive health offers helpful explanations,  health tips and suggestions on a range of topics related to sexual and reproductive health, including the body, healthy relationships, navigating consent, pregnancy options and sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, to name a few.

Press Release: 2015 SRH Week Addresses Healthy Relationships, Consent and STI Prevention in Canada 9-13 February 2015

6 February 2015
For immediate release

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association, is taking the lead on this year’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week (SRH Week). The annual campaign has been led by one of three organizations amalgamated into Action Canada, the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, around February 12th (Sexual and Reproductive Health Day) since 2003.

This year’s campaign will take place from February 9th to 13th and builds on the 2013 and 2014 theme Heart Your Parts. It will also see the launch of a new online sexual health https://www.ourhealthissues.com information hub. The hub www.srhweek.ca includes information that ranges from preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections to consent and caring for yourself and your relationships, among other sexual health related topics.

The information hub is timely given recent media attention and public discussions around sexual consent and the steady rise in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis since the late 1990s. From 2001 to 2011 reported syphilis rates in Canada increased by over 450%. The Public Health Agency of Canada also estimates that 71,300 Canadians were living with HIV infection (including AIDS) in 2011, an 11.4% increase from the 2008 estimate of 64,000. Access to up-to-date and comprehensive information on sexual health and STI prevention are an important component of HIV prevention, and, more generally, in the promotion of community health and well-being.

The “SRH Week campaign is about facing reality. We know that issues like consent and rising STI rates need to be part of the conversation when it comes to health,” said Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “Information is a powerful tool and promoting sexual and reproductive health through Heart Your Parts and the new website can have a big impact,” he added.

In addition to the social media campaign, website and distribution of posters, this year’s SRH Week will include events held across Canada. Among them, Options for Sexual Health British Columbia (Opt BC) will host an SRH Day breakfast with keynote speaker Heather Corinna; the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County (Nova Scotia) will participate in a community event to discuss consent with Amherst high school students; and the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (Winnipeg) will host a workshop for teachers and education staff on making safer sex education fun.

“CPHA is pleased to be working in partnership with Action Canada on this year’s SRH Week campaign Heart your Parts,” said Ian Culbert, Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “Providing individuals with access to reliable and accurate information about sexual health is vital to STI prevention efforts and allows consumers to make informed choices about their health,” he added.

Additional information about the week including the social media kit and poster order forms can been found at archive.actioncanadashr.org and www.srhweek.ca.

– ENDS –

CONTACT: Ani Colekessian [email protected] +1 613 241 4474 x7

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  • Canadian Federation for Sexual Health is one of the three organizations that amalgamated into Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights in November 2014, alongside Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) and Canadians for Choice.
  • The SRH Week website will be launched on February 9th and available at srhweek.ca

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. For more information visit archive.actioncanadashr.org

The Canadian Public Health Association is the national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association representing public health in Canada. CPHA’s members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions which are necessary to achieve health for all Canadians. For more information visit www.cpha.ca

Opinion: What Canada Can Do About Adolescent Pregnancy and Forced Marriages

Originally published on Huffington Post Canada
By ACPD (now Action Canada) Executive Director Sandeep Prasad and Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Chair of the CAPPD)
On October 30, UNFPA released its 2013 State of World Population Report on the theme of adolescent pregnancy globally. The report draws critical links between the issue of adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, sexual violence and maternal mortality — all priority development issues for the Canadian government.

These human rights violations can lead to adolescent pregnancy. Over 39,000 girls are married every day and 90 per cent of girls who give birth are in these marriages. The seven in 10 women who experience sexual violence and survive are twice as likely to experience unintended pregnancy. Adolescent pregnancy can also result in other human rights violations, such as the right to life. Over 70,000 adolescent girls still die every year from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, making it the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19.

In addition to the 2010 Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health, the Canadian government has recently pledged its support to address issues including child marriage and sexual violence in conflic

t and war. Despite the stark realities identified in the report and the government’s commitments and pledges on these issues, the government’s actual support for sexual and reproductive health programming overseas lags far behind. Even with the Muskoka commitment of $1.1 billion of new funding for maternal and child health over five years, the government’s funding specifically for family planning, which is critical for preventing unwanted pregnancies, has in fact decreased since 2005 from $17.9 million to $6.8 million in fiscal year 2011-2012.

Numerous declarations of Parliamentarians from around the world have set a target for donor governments to allocate 10% per centof foreign aid to sexual and reproductive health. If we include the fact that Canada is well under the mark of contributing 0.7 per cent of GDP to development assistance in general, then we see that it would take a commitment the size of four new Muskoka initiatives devoted entirely to sexual and reproductive health for Canada to be fulfilling its fair share.

Statements on sexual violence and child marriage must come with a firm commitment to contribute to the well-being of survivors of these human rights violations. This includes helping to ensure their sexual and reproductive health needs are cared for.

Recognizing that many unwanted pregnancies occur as a result of sexual violence in conflict settings and among girls, the UN Secretary General himself has deemed access to sexual and reproductive health information and services as critically important.

To be effective and to uphold women’s rights, Canadian funding for sexual and reproductive health must be comprehensive and must also include funding for safe abortion services. Twenty-four out of Canada’s 33 priority countries for development permit abortion on grounds of women’s mental health, rape or without restriction. Canada’s unwritten “policy” to not fund abortion abroad, even in cases where women are legally permitted to access the services, not only contradicts the Canadian Health Act but also national laws in the majority of countries in which the Government supports development initiatives.

Despite UNFPA’s recent report’s findings that 3.2-million adolescents each year undergo an unsafe abortion, the Government has stated it has no intention of funding safe abortion services, even in cases of sexual violence as a result of war or for young women and girls in early and forced marriages. In direct opposition to this approach, the U.K. government has taken active steps towards the realization of women’s and girls’ rights through their commitment to fund safe abortion services abroad.

Moreover, the U.K. government has indicated its desire to engage in serious dialogue with donors that restrict the use of their funds for abortion, with the intention of ensuring that women can access the services they need.

Canada’s claimed leadership on these issues rings hollow in contrast to the U.K.’s approach and to the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General. Without an ambitious and comprehensive strategy in place to respond to the needs of rape survivors and girls forced into marriage, the government will continue to deny them their human rights.

Sandeep Prasad on UNFPA’s 2013 State of World Population Report

During the Ottawa launch of the 2013 UNFPA State of World Population Report, Executive Director of ACPD (now Action Canada), Sandeep Prasad spoke to the role Canada could be playing to addressing adolescent pregnancy overseas.


This is not a theoretical report.  It sets out the commitments relating specifically to adolescent girls that were made in 1994 by 179 governments, including Canada, to guarantee their rights to sexual and reproductive health and what countries must do to respect, protect and fulfill these rights.  The ICPD Programme of Action commits government to make information and services available to help protect girls and young women from unwanted pregnancy and to educate young men to respect women’s self-determination.

The report makes clear that solutions cannot be targeted at changing the behaviour of girls; rather they must be targeted at expanding the choices that girls have in their lives.  It requires a multi-tiered approach that involves addressing the underlying determinants and drivers of adolescent pregnancy, including gender inequality, poverty, sexual violence, early and forced (or “child”) marriage, exclusion from educational or job opportunities, and negative attitudes and stereotypes about adolescent girls, as well as, more proximate causes such as the lack of availability of sexual and reproductive health services and the legal, social and economic barriers that interfere with adolescents’ access to them.

These are complex issues but fortunately this year’s State of World Population report sets out a roadmap to the solutions required.

Issues related to adolescent pregnancy are linked to several stated priorities for the Canadian government, in particular: maternal mortality, sexual violence and early marriage.  About 70,000 adolescent girls die each year from pregnancy and childbirth related causes.  The report also notes that adolescent pregnancy occurs, in the developing world, primarily in the context of early marriages or as a result of sexual violence.

While we welcome the government’s attention to a number of issues that are fundamentally intertwined with adolescent pregnancy through its various commitments, it has much more to do to show itself as a leader on these issues.

And here are some thoughts on what that “more” needs to include:

1. The report lays out very clearly the role that laws and policies can play in both driving the conditions that lead to adolescent pregnancy and we also see how addressing these can lead to realizing the human rights of adolescents.  The government needs to use its representation abroad and its seat at the table as a development partner to actively engage in policy dialogue geared at changing laws and policies.  This includes not only measures to ban early and forced marriage but also the paramount need to criminalize marital rape.  There are still 89 countries in the world in which marital rape is perfectly legal and there is a strong correlation between the countries where this is legal and those where early marriage is prevalent.  We know 9 in 10 adolescent pregnancies occur in the context of marriage, but how many occur as a result of rape within marriage?These representations need to also focus on achieving the reform of laws and policies which restrict adolescent access to contraception and abortion services, including the criminal prohibitions of abortion and spousal and parental consent requirements to access these services.

2. The new DFATD needs to commit to implementing the UN Technical Guidance on operationalizing human rights-based approaches to maternal mortality as a donor and in its multilateral engagements.  Moving beyond a statement of principles, the Technical Guidance has the potential to radically change the way countries design and implement sexual and reproductive health policies. It is a technical guidance focused on ministries of health on how to actually implement a human rights based approach to policies and programmes related to maternal mortality and morbidity, showing what is needed at every stage of the project cycle.  This took a great deal of work by civil society at the international level to bring about, including a substantial amount by ACPD.  We are pleased that UNFPA and other UN agencies agreed one year ago to implement the Technical Guidance and we are excited about the pilot projects happening in 5 countries involving government, civil society and UN agencies.

3. Invest further funding for comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents.  On comprehensive sexuality education, if we are committed to a gender transformative approach that this report recommends, then this is a key intervention to bring this about.  Not the way sexuality education is being delivered now in many places – these programmes need to focus on, among many other things, eliminating gender norms.  These norms in and of themselves are harmful to girls, boys, and transgender youth and also perpetuate gender inequality and violence.  On funding for sexual and reproductive health, the Canadian government has fallen short of the mark.  For example, despite the investment in the Muskoka Initiative, the government’s figures show that in FY 2011-2012 it spent about $6.9 million on family planning overseas – much less than the $17.8 million it spent in 2005.  In terms of overall funding for sexual and reproductive health, Muskoka has had a positive impact, but the government’s spending falls far short of the target of allocating 10% of ODA to sexual and reproductive health.  Keeping in mind that the government is far behind in fulfilling its overall ODA commitment of 0.7% of GDP, we would estimate that it would take another commitment of the size of 4 new Muskoka initiatives devoted to sexual and reproductive health for the government to be fulfilling its fair share.

4. The government must rescind its Ministerial declarations prohibiting its funding being used to provide safe abortion services.  The government’s response to this has been two-fold: 1) we can’t provide services that contravene national law and 2) other donors will fund these services so we don’t have to.  On the first point, there is plenty of scope for the government to support safe abortion services as part of a comprehensive and integrated package of sexual and reproductive health services – 24 out of the 33 priority countries for international development permit abortion in circumstances of rape, risk to mental health or without restriction as to reason.  On the second point, we need to learn a lesson from our neighbours to the South. The Helms Amendment in the United States (banning the provision of abortion services as a form of family planning in all US-funded development initiatives) has led to denials of lawful care related to abortion. This includes the denial of lawful safe abortions, post-abortion care, and referrals, counselling and information with regard to abortion services.

5. Lastly and yet crucially, the government must invest in human rights accountability for these issues.  That entails advocating for a strong human rights-based accountability framework in the post-2015 agenda, including not just outcome indicators, but also structural and process indicators.  But even more crucially it requires an investment invoice accountability through building the advocacy capacity of civil society in country, particularly women’s organizations and youth-led organizations.  We know from recent attention to these matters the drastic underfunding that exists for these organizations.

Those are our 5 recommendations related to how Canada can improve its efforts directed at improving the lives of adolescent girls.  To conclude, and with a view to strengthen Canada’s efforts abroad, we must question the Governments’ policy, or lack therefore, refusing to fund safe abortion services abroad. This begins with holding the Government accountable to upholding its human rights obligations. We must do this by carefully monitoring the impact of this policy on women’s access to information and services. There must be accountability for these impacts.

I urge you all to read this year’s State of World Population report and the roadmap that it sets out to realize the human rights of girls and I look forward to questions.

Press Release: Investing in Family Planning is Key for World at 7 Billion

Launch of UNFPA State of the World Population Report 2011: People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion

In five days, the world’s population is projected to reach 7 billion. How we respond now will determine whether we have a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future or one that is marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks, according to The State of World Population 2011 report, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Launching the report at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa today, UNFPA representative Alanna Armitage told reporters that this population milestone of 7 billion is a “call to action”. Over 215 million women and girls worldwide want to use modern methods of contraceptives in order to space or limit their families but have no access to these services for reasons of gender inequality, cost, geography, age and/or insufficient health infrastructure and resources. “And yet development assistance for family planning has declined and is lower than it was in the mid 1990s. There are millions of adolescent girls and boys in the developing world who have insufficient access to sexuality education and to information about how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV. Enabling individuals to have the power to make their own reproductive decisions remain the best guide for the future” said Ms. Armitage.

Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) congratulated the Canadian Government for its ongoing support of UNFPA’s work and for its recent decision to fund the International Planned Parenthood Federation to provide contraceptive services and sexuality education in developing countries but noted that Canada needs to do much more. Mr. Prasad said “Canada has committed significant funds to accelerating progress on women’s health through the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH); however, only about 1.7% of the funds that have been announced so far are directed towards family planning services and supplies.

The evidence from UNFPA’s report tells us that Canada needs to be investing much more in contraceptive services, information and supplies if we are to fulfill our promises to reduce poverty and hunger in a world of 7 billion”. In her concluding remarks, Ms. Armitage reiterated that a large world population has challenges but also opportunities. “Charting a path now to sustainable economic and social development that promotes equality, rather than exacerbates or reinforces inequalities, is more important than ever.”


NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Copies of the report and high-resolution print-ready graphics from the report and high-resolution B-rolls of accompanying short videos are available through; https://www.unfpa.org/public/op/preview/home/sitemap/swp2011 The user name is: unfpa password: swp2011

Journalists are also welcome to attend the public launch of the report at 6pm on Wednesday October 26, 131 Queen Street – registration is required for journalists not accredited to Parliament.