Statement by Minister Monsef on the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child


October 11, 2020

Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, today issued the following statement:

“Today is International Day of the Girl Child, an occasion to celebrate the voices and power of girls here in Canada and around the world, reflect on the challenges they continue to face because of their gender and recommit to building a world where women and girls have access to the same opportunities, rights, and protections as men and boys.

In Canada and around the world, girls are changing their communities and shaping a better future for all of us. They show us every day that when girls are given the opportunity, they can transform our world. Today and always we must honour and celebrate the young trailblazers, past and present, who overcame discrimination, fought for what they believed in and pushed open doors so that others could follow. Young women like Esther Marjorie Hill, who, in 1920, was the first woman to earn an architectural degree in Canada, despite facing discrimination in her chosen male-dominated field, and Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer-songwriter, who, from a young age, has been using her voice and talent to advocate for environmental reform.

Canada led the international effort to establish Day of the Girl Child in order to draw attention to the persistent inequalities and dangers that too many girls face around the world. Since then we have seen progress, both here at home and around the world, but we know there is much more work to be done.

Too many girls worldwide still face barriers to basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter. Too many have inadequate access to education, limiting their potential to earn a living and secure their future. This hurts not only these young women, but also holds back their communities. To help combat this, Canada's National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is supporting the education of millions of children worldwide. We also have invested $180 million in the Global Partnership for Education to promote gender equality and inclusion in schools, helping more children around the world achieve a higher level of education.

Here in Canada, we have made progress in recent years on educational equality but too many girls still face unique challenges when compared to their male counterparts. They have higher rates of depression and are more likely to experience violence and poverty. The ongoing national tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls demonstrates how First Nations, Inuit and Métis girls are especially at risk. Many of these challenges have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has heightened gender inequalities that existed long before the virus appeared in our communities, especially for those who also face discrimination or hardship because of their race, sexual orientation, or disability.

We know that Canada cannot succeed when half of us are held back, which means we must continue to work hard to address these unfair disparities. In doing so, we will create a better, stronger future, not just for the girls of today, but for all Canadians, now and for generations to come.

On this day, let’s celebrate the courageous, powerful, talented girls in our own lives and communities.  Their activism and advocacy shows us all that we are never too young to make a difference. With girls leading the way, we all benefit.”


Marie-Pier Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

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