Statement by The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P. Minister of Status of Women Head of the Delegation of Canada To United Nations Commission On the Status of Women (UNCSW) 60th Session
New York, March 15, 2016
Madame Chair, distinguished delegates.
On behalf of Canada, I am honoured to address the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
As Minister of Status of Women, I welcome the opportunity to take part in this global dialogue on issues of importance not just to women and girls, but to their families, communities, and countries.
Canada has a proud tradition of international leadership, from helping to create the United Nations after the Second World War, to peace support operations, and the international treaty to ban landmines.
The Canadian government is embracing its international roles and responsibilities with a renewed sense of purpose.
First, we intend to ensure Canada remains a world leader in the advancement of gender equality, and the full realization of women's human rights. In support of this objective, Canada will seek to expand its role in this body. Canada is running for a seat on the Commission for the 2017 to 2021 term. Equality is a core Canadian value, and if elected, we will continue to advocate for gender equality around the world.
Second, Canada believes gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but an essential component of social justice, peace, security, and prosperity.
Third, Canada will remain a world leader in integrating gender equality into our international development assistance programming, as part of our commitment to improving the lives of women and girls around the world.
Canada strongly supports the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We are committed to making substantial and long-lasting contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in ways that support and empower women and girls. Achieving these goals will also require determined efforts and strong political will from leaders of all countries.
The right to a life free of violence is fundamental, yet gender-based violence continues to be a reality for women and girls.
As part of my mandate as Minister of Status of Women, I am engaging with experts, grassroots organizations, and provincial and territorial governments to develop a comprehensive federal strategy to end violence against women and girls, and improve protection and services for survivors of violence across Canada.
The disproportionate rate of violence against Indigenous women and girls is a major concern for the Canadian government and all Canadians.
We have launched an inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in our country. Over the past three months as part of the design process, my colleagues - the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Minister of Justice - and I have met with and listened to survivors, families and loved ones. In the coming months, we will announce details of the inquiry, and how it will contribute to Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.
Women continue to be controlled through the widespread and harmful practice of child, early, and forced marriage, practices that threaten the lives and futures of girls around the world, with devastating consequences.
In a relatively short period of time, there has been strong global momentum towards ending child, early, and forced marriage which can lead to lifelong disempowerment. Moving forward, we must unite across all levels of government and all sectors of society to support international action that will eliminate this widespread and harmful practice. Canada remains firmly committed to doing its part to make this a reality.
Finally, a critical ingredient for making progress for women and girls is empowerment. I have mentioned this word several times already, because when women are empowered, women can make changes in their lives and communities that lead to a better life for all.
Empowerment means knowing your rights - the right to education, health care, a violence-free life, the right to agree and disagree. But more than even knowing your rights, empowerment means having a society which values your contributions and capabilities. It creates the circumstances that allow for choice.
When women and girls are empowered, they create lives, families, communities, indeed countries that thrive socially AND economically. It really is time that we understand that gender equality is not just the goal. It is a means to a more peaceful, innovative and prosperous world for us all.
On behalf of all Canadians, I commit the Government of Canada 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.
Thank you, Merci.
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