Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UN Agency Slams Canada's Maternal Health Policy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UN Agency Slams Canada's Maternal Health Policy

Article excerpt

UN agency slams Canada's maternal health policy

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OTTAWA - The former Conservative government's signature maternal health initiative treated women like baby-making machines, the head of a United Nations agency said Tuesday.

Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said he had little opportunity to speak his mind on the issue when Stephen Harper was prime minister.

Osotimehin said Harper's international maternal health policy, dubbed the Muskoka Initiative, "made a difference, but I think what we are trying to make out here is that we should not treat women just as bodies that deliver babies but actually as human beings with rights and dignity."

The UN officer made the comments in Ottawa while attending the Canadian launch of the agency's 2015 report on the world's population. The report provides a disconcerting account of the condition of women and girls in a "world in crisis."

Osotimehin was also in the city Monday for the Liberal government's announcement it was providing $5 million to the UNFPA for the distribution of contraceptives.

Harper launched his maternal health policy for mothers, children and newborns during the 2010 G8 Summit in Muskoka, Ont.

Since then, Canada stopped providing money to the UNFPA for contraceptives.

The UNFPA describes itself as the world's largest distributor of contraceptives for the public.

"At the conference in Toronto, even (Harper's) announcement reluctantly said it would also include (money) for contraceptives. But we never got any funding for contraceptives. …

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