NEW YORK, 29 February 2012
Madame Chair, distinguished delegates.
As Canada’s Minister for Status of Women, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I begin by reaffirming our commitment to gender equality and to the empowerment of women and girls.
We also reaffirm our commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Millennium Development Goals.
During this time of global economic uncertainty, the Government of Canada remains focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs and the economy. That is why our government has taken targeted action to help women in communities across Canada be safer, more secure and more economically successful.
We believe women’s physical safety goes hand-in-hand with their economic security. This is especially true in the many rural, Northern and remote communities throughout our country. That is why this year’s focus on rural women is of particular significance to Canada.
While women and girls in rural Canada experience unique challenges and opportunities, they also share many of the difficulties faced by women and girls in rural and remote areas throughout the world.
To address these challenges, Canada has made significant investments in its rural communities.
Canada's Rural Partnership benefits women and girls, men and boys by seeking to: enhance the competitiveness of rural regions; foster the transformation of local ideas and untapped assets into sustainable economic activities; and facilitate the development of new economic opportunities from existing natural and cultural resources.
For example, the Westlock Women's Association received funding for a project to enhance the leadership capacity and participation of women who have been affected by violence in this rural Albertan community.
During these difficult economic times, it is clear that women’s economic empowerment is essential to our future prosperity. That is why the Government of Canada has taken action, supporting projects that encourage women to attain economic self-sufficiency and active participation in the labour market.
For example, the Government of Canada supported a successful project in Newfoundland and Labrador that increased opportunities for women in non-traditional careers by helping them gain successful apprenticeships as well as employment in the natural resources sector.
In addition, our six regional economic development agencies are instrumental in the delivery of programs aimed at stimulating rural economies. Through these agencies, the Government of Canada has established a network of centres to assist women in starting and growing their businesses.
Canada acknowledges the need to reach out to women and girls living in rural and remote communities. That is why we recently issued a Call for Proposals for projects focused on reducing violence against women and girls and encouraging women’s economic security in rural and remote communities. These grassroots projects will improve the lives of countless women and girls across Canada.
We also recognize the critical role that Aboriginal women and girls – a significant proportion of whom live in rural, remote and Northern areas – play in lifting their families and their communities out of poverty.
Our government has taken action to enhance Aboriginal women’s economic security through job preparedness training, financial independence and life skills development, training for non-traditional occupations, and support for entrepreneurship and business development.
Canada also welcomes the Commission’s emerging issue, inspiring men and boys to engage in overcoming barriers to gender equality. Member States need to take active measures to involve men and boys in such critical areas as preventing violence against women and girls, promoting women’s and girls’ economic well-being and fostering their representation in leadership positions.
In Canada, for example, the non-governmental Ending Violence Association of British Columbia is leading an innovative project to engage boys and men, including football coaches and their teams, in preventing violence against women and girls.
Despite progress, girls in particular continue to face barriers to development and freedom from harm. To address these challenges, Canada played a leadership role, along with Plan Canada, and in partnership with Turkey and Peru, in the UN General Assembly’s recent proclamation of October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child. The annual event will empower girls as citizens, leaders and powerful motivators of change.
This shows how countries that work together can improve the lives of women and girls around the world, today and in the future.
Thank you, Madame Chair.