Canada’s Ambassador speaks about women’s empowerment and leadership at the NGO Forum in Geneva

Ambassador Golberg speaks about women’s empowerment and leadership at the NGO Forum on Beijing +20 in Geneva.700 participants representing 350 civil society groups from 56 countries gathered in Geneva from 3-5 November 2014 to mark 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – a key policy commitment to advancing women’s human rights and empowerment. Recognizing Canada’s strong leadership on women’s human rights, the organizers asked Ambassador Golberg, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, to address the Forum about women’s empowerment and leadership, including in diplomacy roles. Reflecting on the impacts of Beijing Declaration to women’s advancement, Ambassador Golberg explained that “Beijing was foundational for many of us who now occupy senior leadership positions – in particular its unapologetic call for equality and empowerment”. She went on to stress the importance of supporting women’s participation in decision-making at all levels in times of peace and crises, as well as increasing women’s access to capital and economic opportunities, including by changing laws and policies, addressing issues like property rights and inheritance, and supporting skills development including in non-traditional areas and occupations.

Ambassador Elissa Golberg with Director of the UNFPA office in Geneva, Alanna Armitage, General Secretary of World YWCA, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, and Director of the Institute for International Women's Rights Global College of the University of Winnipeg, Marilou McPhedran.

Ambassador Golberg also emphasised the need to prioritize empowerment of girls and to give both girls and boys positive, visible and capable role models as well as equip them with an ability to challenge stereotypes. In this regard, she highlighted the need to address child, early and forced marriage, to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics systems, which play a key role in protection of human rights, and the need to rally behind global efforts to stop sexual violence in conflict. Finally, Ambassador called on the civil society to support inclusion of a stand-along goal on the empowerment of women and girls in the post-2015 development agenda. Her messages were echoed in the NGO Forum Declaration and Draft Recommendations adopted by the Forum participants who reaffirmed that women’s rights human rights remain central to the world’s attainment of equality, sustainability, development and peace.

The outcome of the NGO Forum will help inform the global Beijing +20 review at the upcoming 59th session of the Commission of the Status of Women in March 2015 in New York. For more information about the Beijing +20 review process as well as the NGO Forum link here: