Address by Minister Bibeau to a press conference in Haiti announcing Voice and Leadership Program in Haiti

Speech

February 19, 2018; Port-au-Prince , Haiti

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Good afternoon.

I am inspired by the women I have met here today: Haitian women who are engaged and determined leaders.

My message is simple: Canada is on your side.

For Canada, the most effective way to eliminate poverty and achieve our Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is to empower women and girls. That is why we launched our Feminist International Assistance Policy, which challenges the status quo and supports women and girls to reach their full potential.

When women can make their own decisions in all matters that affect their lives;

When they can take part in politics and hold decision-making positions;

When women and girls have access to quality sexual and reproductive health services;

They can stay in school longer, earn better salaries and contribute to the development of their community. They can stand up for their rights and bring about positive changes for everyone.

And who better than local women’s rights organizations to make sure that women’s voices are heard? Women’s rights movements and organizations fight to change power relationships, amend discriminatory laws and work toward eradicating gender-based violence.

These organizations are the best placed to know how to defend women’s rights and eliminate obstacles to gender equality. And yet, women’s organizations are still underfunded today. And too often marginalized. And kept out of discussions and decision making.

That is why, in June 2017, Canada committed to providing $150 million to the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program. This initiative will support civil society organizations in developing countries that promote women’s rights and increase women’s social, economic and political power, as well as their inclusion and participation in policy discussions.

Today, I am pleased to announce Canada’s first contribution to the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program.

The Women’s Voice and Leadership project in Haiti will receive $8 million in funding over five years. This initiative will support up to 30 local organizations and women’s rights advocacy networks in Haiti.

These women’s organizations have identified three key action areas they wish to focus on over the next five years: women’s economic empowerment, the fight against gender-based violence and women’s participation in decision making.

The funds will be managed by CECI, a Canadian development organization that has been working in Haiti since 1971, for whom gender equality is a key tenet.

The women’s movement in Haiti has played an instrumental role in making gains toward gender equality. Unfortunately, a number of women’s organizations lost their leaders in the devastating earthquake of 2010 and have been working to build themselves up again ever since, despite a lack of funding.

Providing them with training and funding over several years means these organizations will be better able to plan their development strategies, manage their projects and collaborate with various actors—including media, universities, the government and other human-rights advocacy organizations.

This project will reach more than 3,000 women and girls directly, and another 130,000 indirectly.

I am convinced that the next few years will bring a new generation of female leaders in Haiti and an even stronger and more vibrant civil society—one that is heard and engaged in Haiti’s development.

Women’s voices must be heard in all spheres of society, in Canada, as well as in Haiti. We all need women’s leadership. To change things. To build a better world. To break the cycle of poverty. We will never achieve this if half of humanity is left out.

I encourage Haitian women to make themselves heard. And Haitian men to reach out to these incredible women who want to work with you for Haiti’s future!

Canada and Haiti have a history of collaboration. With Voices and Leadership, we will write a new, fascinating chapter in that history.

Thank you. Mesi an-pil.

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