Statement by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Status of Women at the Head of the Delegation of Canada to the General Assembly of the United Nations - Social, Humanitarian & Cultural – Third Committee


October 11, 2016

New York

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

Madame Chair, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, on behalf of Canada I am honoured to be here today to address the Third Committee of the General Assembly in this 71st session.

As Minister of Status of Women, I’m proud to be back here once again, where we accomplished so much for women and girls at the Commission on the Status of Women this past March.

We were very happy with the strong language in the ‘agreed conclusions’ that called for addressing the situation of Indigenous women and girls, reducing violence against women and girls, and promoting civil society as key players in achieving gender equality.

Prime Minister Trudeau actively participated in the sixtieth session of Commission on the Status of Women, including proudly accepting his designation as a ‘champion’ of UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign.

He is also honoured to be recently named youth ambassador for the HeForShe campaign.

At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, Canada underscored its renewed commitment to international engagement on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including seeking out membership for the 2017 to 2021 term.

We look forward to working with member states to advance gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and the realization of their human rights.

At home, the entire conversation about gender equality has been elevated by Prime Minister Trudeau’s clear and unequivocal commitment to feminism, reflected in his appointment of the first gender-balanced federal Cabinet in our history last fall. His definitive action made headlines, but as he said, he is looking forward to a time when such an event would not be shocking to so many.

When this type of action would be considered commonplace, he noted, it would indicate a world comfortable with gender equality in all realms.

We of course have not arrived to that point yet; we have a long way to go.

Whenever a culture of patriarchy persists in a society, overcoming entrenched gender inequality has proven to be very difficult. The pace of change in gender roles and social norms can be slow, painful and meet with great resistance. Power and privilege are never easily relinquished.

To help ensure that we reach true gender equality in Canada, we are taking actions to make progress.

First, we have taken strides to address the high levels of gender-based violence in Canada that prevents women and girls from reaching their full potential.

As Minister of Status of Women, I have engaged key stakeholders across the country to develop a Federal Strategy Against Gender-based Violence.

We are also taking action to address the much higher rate of violence that Indigenous women and girls face in Canada. We have launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to respond to the unacceptable levels of violence perpetrated against them.

We understand that an important underpinning of gender equality is the existence of childcare, so to ensure broader access across our country, we are developing a Framework for Early Education and Childcare.

We are also in the process of creating a Poverty Reduction Strategy that will help our country address persistent income inequalities; and we have put in place a bold action plan to enhance use of Gender-based Analysis in federal decisions about policies, programs, and legislation.

To advance women in leadership positions, we have established a new and transparent process for making senior government appointments.

This new approach will ensure Canada’s diversity (including gender) is better reflected in federal commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies, and tribunals.

And we continue to fund organizations at the national, regional, and community level to help eliminate barriers to the success of women and girls.

And we are taking these actions because we believe that good social policy is also good fiscal policy.

When people have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive, we grow the middle class, and help generate inclusive, sustainable, economic growth for our country.

In the work we do internationally, we have committed to put gender equality and rights and empowerment of women and girls at the heart of all of our international development efforts.

We know that when women and girls are empowered with the knowledge and skills to succeed in life, they have better health and economic outcomes.

Girls are powerful agents of change and need to be included as full participants in decisions that affect their lives and in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We must ensure they have the right tools and opportunities to make a difference.

All women and girls deserve an equal chance to realize their human rights, reach their full potential, and contribute to and benefit from the progress in their communities and countries. The Government of Canada is committed to working with all of our partners to make this happen.

On behalf of all Canadians, I wish everyone a very happy and inspirational International Day of the Girl!

Thank you.

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