Statement by the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, Head of the Delegation of Canada to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) 62nd Session


March 13, 2018 - New York

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Madame Chair, I am honoured to lead Canada’s delegation as a proud member of the first-ever gender-balanced federal Cabinet.

Ambassador Blanchard has welcomed some 200 members of Team Canada to this year’s CSW, including National Indigenous leaders and representatives.

A lot has happened since last year’s gathering. This may be the 62nd CSW, but it’s our first time gathering since the MeToo and TimesUp movements.

We find ourselves in a unique moment in time, and Canada will work to seize the momentum by mainstreaming gender equality throughout our G7 Presidency in 2018.

Quand nous investissons dans les femmes, on améliore l’économie pour tout le monde.

[When we invest in women and girls, we improve the economy for everyone.]

Canada just introduced the first intersectional gender budget in our history to address systemic barriers to gender equality.

This includes:

  • Investing in national strategies for early learning and childcare, housing, women entrepreneurs and poverty reduction, while encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields in order to close the gender wage gap;
  • Introducing a child benefit plan that is lifting 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty;
  • Ensuring that all federally-regulated workplaces are free from harassment and pay women equally for work of equal value;
  • Encouraging equal sharing of parental responsibilities and engaging men and boys in advancing gender equality;
  • Advocating for gender-related considerations into trade agreements;
  • Launching a new action plan on women, peace and security, with $2 billion in international development assistance, in addition to $650 million in sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of our feminist foreign policy; and
  • Making historic investments in women’s organizations, while implementing Canada’s first federal strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence.

These measures are not just the right things to do, they are the smart things to do.

And what gets measured gets done.

Canada is committed to applying an intersectional gender lens to all government decisions. This has paved the way for gender budgeting, which will be legislated as a permanent part of Canada’s budget-making process.

We are also implementing a Gender Results Framework to measure progress in fostering an economy that works for everyone. And where there are gaps, we will invest in research and data.

As for this year’s theme…

We know that there are unique challenges and opportunities for Indigenous women and girls living in rural and remote communities. Our government is committed to working with Indigenous peoples to improve outcomes through meaningful investments and adopting the UNDRIP.

At the rural women’s summit I recently hosted in my hometown of Peterborough-Kawartha, I heard about the stereotypes and harmful gender norms that label a woman as “the farmer’s wife” while she does all the same work as her husband. I also heard stories of courage and resilience that characterize rural and Indigenous women’s contributions to our country.

While we must address the challenges, it is just as important to share stories of women of impact – such as Elsie Knott, the first woman elected chief of a First Nation, who came from Curve Lake.

Because if our daughters cannot see them, they cannot be them.

And speaking of role models, without a vibrant women’s movement, our efforts will not be sustainable.

We thank these feminists for their vision, wisdom and decades of impact. Our call to action is to financially invest in their long-term success.

We have much to learn from each other in our collective struggle. Canada will remain a partner and leader in the global efforts to advance gender equality because when we invest in women, we strengthen our economies and our communities for everyone.

Thank you. Merci. 

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