Canadian ministers’ blog on Canada’s participation in the 60th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
By the Honourable Patricia J. Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women (leading Canada’s delegation); the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
The Government of Canada is embracing its international role and responsibilities with renewed energy and sense of purpose. As stated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week in New York: “It’s time. It’s time for Canada to step up again.”
Canada believes that gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but also an essential component of social justice, peace, security and prosperity. During the 60th meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), Canada renewed its commitment to advancing gender equality globally.
As part of this commitment, Canada is seeking election to the Commission for the 2017 to 2021 term. Gaining a seat will strengthen Canada’s voice in shaping the Commission’s work to address the challenges women and girls face around the world. This effort also reflects Canada’s support for the United Nations and our commitment to play a positive and constructive role in the world.
This year, the Canadian delegation included four Cabinet ministers, as well as representatives of provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations. Collectively, that’s an enormous range of experience, knowledge and insight.
Our collaboration in New York reflects the positive, dynamic feeling in the Trudeau cabinet and the leadership Canada is demonstrating on gender equality.
We were inspired by the sharing and learning opportunities presented by the UNCSW panel discussion focused on creating pathways to equality for Indigenous women and girls, including insights that will contribute to our engagement with Indigenous communities moving forward. As part of our commitment to take action, we highlighted that the Government of Canada has launched a national inquiry to identify concrete steps to reduce and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls. Our government is committed to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
We were pleased to participate in a host of policy discussions on critical issues affecting women and girls, such as ending gender-based violence, the rights of Indigenous women and girls, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. These discussions have given us valuable opportunities to learn from others about best practices for supporting women and girls in reaching their full potential and to share some of Canada’s approaches.
Canada was also proud to join with UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund to formally launch the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. This initiative will coordinate international efforts and build momentum toward achieving the new Agenda 2030 target of eliminating this harmful practice.
Women and girls are often the most marginalized, the poorest and the hardest-to-reach people in communities. They need services that ensure their own sexual and reproductive health; they need to know about these services, and they must be free to access them. This is particularly true for adolescent girls who live in conflict and fragile zones, situations where, at best, their health is being neglected and, at worst, they are victims of unspeakable violence. That is why Canada’s response to the conflict in Syria and Iraq, for example, includes specific assistance to victims of sexual violence.
As ministers, as women, we recognize that we cannot achieve peace and prosperity if half of the world’s population is left behind. Girls and women are powerful agents of change. That is why we need to ensure they have the tools and opportunities to build the world they desire.
As we move forward, there is still much to be done, but the Government of Canada is committed to working with all our partners to ensure that women and girls in Canada and around the world have the chance to live their lives in ways that they determine: to pursue their ambitions, to know that they have intrinsic worth and to ultimately reach their full potential.
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