Address by Minister Cannon at Tribute Evening for the International Women of Courage Award

No. 2010/80 - Montreal, Quebec - October 5, 2010

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Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper is unfortunately unable to join us this evening. However, he did wish to express his support and admiration for our guest of honour, the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet.

As the Prime Minister said, we are delighted with Michelle Bachelet’s appointment as head of UN Women [the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women].

This new entity was created to respond more quickly to the needs of women and girls around the world, a goal that reflects Canadian values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Canada is a world leader in the promotion and protection of women’s rights and equality between men and women.

To us, equality between men and women is not just about protecting human rights: it is critical to sustainable development, social justice, peace and security.

Last week, at the United Nations General Assembly, I had the honour of co-chairing the meeting of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, during which I expressed Canada’s commitment to, interest in and enthusiasm for the objectives of UN Women.

Canada has vigorously pursued the implementation of United Nations Security Resolution 1325 [on women, peace and security] since its adoption 10 years ago.

I’m pleased to announce that Canada today released its national action plan to promote the cause of women, peace and security.

A champion of women’s rights herself, Michelle Bachelet will bring to UN Women her high-level political skills and her exceptional ability to create consensus.

She is recognized and respected the world over for her collaborative approach, her battle against corruption and her efforts to bring about reconciliation between the military and the people of Chile. She has done all this despite a difficult personal situation.

On behalf of the Government of Canada and of all Canadians—especially those who have been inspired by Ms. Bachelet’s example and actions—as well as for myself, I wish her every success in her new role.

I also want to assure Ms. Bachelet that she will always be able to count on Canada’s support.

Thank you.