On Wednesday, International Women’s Day, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put President Donald Trump to shame. Trump tweeted that he respects women, despite that claim being demonstrably false.
Trudeau celebrated Women’s Day by actually doing something to help women. He pledged funds to be spent by the Canadian government and empowering women to take charge of their sexual health, replacing some of the money Trump eliminated from American foreign aid that used to go towards women’s health.
It is no secret that around the world women are marginalized.
And women who are not empowered to decide how many children they want, and when they want them, are at the mercy of chance and men. When millions of women globally cannot plan pregnancies around education and career opportunities, they lose out on chances to better their own lives.
This is why funding family planning aid is instrumental for fighting patriarchy in developing countries where many women still lack access to basic contraceptives and sexual health care.
In January, however, Trump signed an executive order reinstating the “global gag rule” surrounded by men in the Oval Office. The rule bans American foreign aid money from going to health organizations that provide abortions, or even just tell women how they can access a safe, medical abortion for another provider.
American money has never been used to fund abortions, only other services like contraception and STI screening by providers that also offer abortions or abortion counseling.
Additionally, disallowing money to go towards organizations that advocate for safe, medical abortions does not reduce abortion rates. It only decreases the rates of medical abortions and increases the rates of risky at-home abortions.
Trudeau publicly recognized the importance of sexual health empowerment in the fight to empower women in all areas of their lives. Canada is adding an additional $20 million to their foreign aid budget for maternal health and newborn health care.
Trudeau told his audience in honor of International Women’s Day,
“Like men, women should be able to choose when they want to start a family, how big their family should be, and who they want to start that family with. … When women have equal power and equal weight and equal leadership influence, the kinds of decisions [made] are better.”
Trudeau, a real leader who has real respect for women, showed his commitment to all of the world’s women on Wednesday. We wish the same could be said for our president.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.