Canada and UN Women host conference to boost women's economic empowerment

September 21, 2011

Today, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, and UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, announced that Canada and UN Women will co-host a conference on women's economic empowerment in Ottawa from October 3 to 5, 2011.

The conference will focus on ways of opening economies to the full participation of women and on the tools needed by women to take advantage of and benefit from these economic opportunities. Fair participation by women in economic activities not only helps the women themselves but also can help whole communities rise out of poverty. The results of the conference will drive the activities and planning of CIDA and UN Women.

"Our Government understands that the full participation of women is necessary to long-term, sustainable economic growth and social progress," Minister Oda said. "This conference will bring together a diverse group of women and men, and their deliberations will identify concrete ways for women to participate in the economy and strengthen their economic security and rights. This conference will allow both CIDA and UN Women to deliver better, more effective programs, and deliver tools into the hands of women around the world."

"Evidence shows that improving women's economic empowerment is not only critical to achieving gender equality, it also boosts national economies," said UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Michelle Bachelet. "This important event will foster dialogue and action among leaders, international development practitioners and innovators from a range of sectors to promote gender equality and prosperity for all women—for today and the future."

The conference will bring together approximately 100 invited participants, representing a broad range of ideas, skills and expertise. It will provide a venue for entrepreneurs, thinkers and policy makers from both the developing and developed worlds to exchange ideas and identify forward-looking practical steps to address the evolving needs of women internationally.

Key accomplished participants will share their insights and knowledge through their role in leading the discussions. They include: Dr. Naila Kabeer, a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex; Marie Diallo, founder and owner of Phytopharma in Senegal; and Bunker Roy, founder of the Barefoot College, a non-government organization that trains female workers in rural communities. Dr. Kabeer is a recognised international expert in gender and development and has published several books on poverty, social exclusion and gender in relation to labour markets. Ms. Diallo is a Senegalese entrepreneur who combines her expertise in pharmacy with traditional indigenous knowledge to help train female Shea butter producers in developing quality products and accessing international markets, and Mr. Roy, is the recipient of several awards for his work, including the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Comunicado de prensa

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Information:

Justin Broekema
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
justin.broekema@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Backgrounder

September 21, 2011

Conference on Women's Economic Empowerment

The conference

The conference will take place in Ottawa from October 3 to 5, 2011. Approximately 100 participants have been invited by CIDA and UN Women to represent a balance of researchers, entrepreneurs and policy makers, with strong representation from the developing world. The plenary sessions of the conference will be webcast to ensure the widest possible audience can benefit from the conference.

The conference builds on CIDA's commitment to integrate equality between women and men as a crosscutting theme in all its programs and policies, particularly in implementing CIDA's Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy, which includes a focus on improving women's access to entrepreneurial training and financial services and addressing the barriers to women's entrepreneurship and employment in the formal labour market.

UN Women advocates for women's economic empowerment as women's rights and as an enormous contribution to development for societies and economies. UN Women supports countries to enact laws and policies that increase women's access to economic resources and to establish services that support sustainable livelihoods.

The conference has three themes:

  • Investing in the foundations for women's economic empowerment, economic security, and rights
  • Investing in practical ways to support women entrepreneurs and create more and better work for women
  • Investing in women's economic leadership for tomorrow

Canada and UN Women

Canada is a strong supporter of UN Women, which came into being January 2011. In October 2010 Canada was among the first nations to announce financial support for the new organization. Canada's contribution of $10 million is helping to address the challenges faced by women, including violence against women, peace and security in conflict situations, and lack of economic opportunities, assets and resources.

About CIDA

CIDA is Canada's lead agency for official development assistance. In keeping with Canada's aid effectiveness agenda, CIDA works to make Canadian aid more focused, effective and accountable. One of the Agency's three priority themes is to stimulate sustainable economic growth.

CIDA's priority themes address the challenges faced by partner countries and ensure that Canadian international assistance is achieving concrete results. The priority themes are supported by three crosscutting themes, one of which is to promote equality between women and men.

About UN Women

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations (UN) entity for equality between women and men and the empowerment of women. In doing so, member states took an historic step in accelerating the organization's goals on equality between women and men and the empowerment of women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact.

The main roles of UN Women are to:

  • Support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards, and norms
  • Help member states implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and forge effective partnerships with civil society
  • Hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on equality between women and men, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress

Grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the UN Charter, UN Women, among other issues, works for the:

  • Elimination of discrimination against women and girls
  • Empowerment of women
  • Achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security

For more information visit UN Women Web site.