UNFPA Representative in Sri Lanka Ritsu Nacken (left) with High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka David McKinnon
High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka David McKinnon, and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sri Lanka Representative Ritsu Nacken yesterday signed a grant agreement of CDN$ 400,000 to ensure that vulnerable women and girls have access to vital services related to gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health during the pandemic.
Initiated in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and Social Security, this new funding will enhance the capacity of hospital care centres to support survivors of domestic violence, undertake a media campaign to combat gender-based violence, procure medical equipment for maternal health, and conduct an analysis on socio-economic impact of the pandemic on women and girls.
Speaking on behalf of the Canadian Government, McKinnon stated: “A sad dimension of the pandemic is that the hardships of lockdown and economic pressures are often compounded by increased violence against women and children. Through UNFPA, we are pleased to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in providing stronger support to these victims.”
Nacken said: “In the COVID-19 response, we must recognise women and men often have different needs and priorities. UNFPA continues to support the most vulnerable women and girls, whose protection and health needs must be at the centre of response efforts.”
The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere in Sri Lanka. It has severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and hampered authorities’ ability to respond to gender-based violence, at a time when women and girls need these services most. The principle of ‘Leaving no one behind’ underpinning the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is more relevant than ever.
As the lead UN Agency in advocating for universal sexual and reproductive health and prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, UNFPA works to achieve three transformative results: zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030. UNFPA has been working with its partners to accelerate this effort during the pandemic.
The present grant builds on existing Canadian support to UNFPA in Sri Lanka to end gender-based violence, in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.