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Canada's Putting Women At The Heart Of Its Global Agenda

Through international trade Canada is taking concrete steps to ensure that women benefit from the growth and wealth world markets offer.

06/23/2017 15:13 EDT | Updated 06/23/2017 15:13 EDT

By: Celina Caesar-Chavannes and Pamela Goldsmith-Jones

The economic equality of women will be one of the greatest drivers of progress the world has ever seen. The current reality facing women globally -- and particularly indigenous, racialized, disabled and LGBTQ women -- is that we continue to be less represented in the workplaces of the world.

We make less money than men. We do more menial jobs. We face discrimination at work and when we access services. We are subject to violence because of our gender. We face barriers to education and carry the lion's share of raising children. Frequently, we are even denied the right to determine the fate of our own bodies.

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Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's minister of international development and La Francophonie.

Increasing the participation of women in society improves the lives of women, which directly benefits families and entire communities. By addressing gender inequality families become healthier, better educated and more prosperous. When women join the global economy as full participants the economic value is estimated to be almost $12 trillion dollars.

Together with their colleagues across government, International Development and la Francophonie Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne are leading a transformational and generational shift to make our world smarter, healthier, safer and more prosperous because they are putting women at the heart of Canada's international interests/agenda.

Progressive trade emphasizes opportunities for women, and will have a positive effect in Canada and abroad.

Through international trade Canada is taking concrete steps to ensure that women benefit from the growth and wealth world markets offer. Canada's progressive trade agenda focuses particularly on women, indigenous peoples, youth, and small and medium sized businesses, with the objective that all segments of society can take advantage of, and otherwise benefit from the opportunities that flow from international trade.

The recently signed Amending Agreement modernizing the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (June 5, 2017) includes a Trade and Gender Chapter. This is a first for a G20 country and for Canada. In the Canada-Chile agreement, "the parties acknowledge that women's enhanced participation in the labour market and their economic independence and access to, and ownership of, economic resources contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, prosperity, competitiveness and the well-being of society." Progressive trade emphasizes opportunities for women, and will have a positive effect in Canada and abroad.

Chris Wattie / Reuters
Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne (C).

International development success also hinges on gender equality. As a matter of fact, by 2021-22 at the latest, at least 95 per cent of Canada's bilateral international development assistance investments will either target or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Canada's new feminist international assistance policy will focus on programs that address sexual and gender-based violence and that provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights services to women and girls. Canada will also allocate $150 million through the Women's Voice and Leadership Program in order to respond to the needs of local women's organizations that are working to advance the rights of women and girls and promote gender equality.

Recently we met with Ann Bernes, Swedish ambassador for gender equality, to discuss how women are changing the world. Countries like Canada and Sweden are leading the world with regard to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in their international policies. Ministers Champagne and Bibeau are reimagining the role our gender plays to make the world safer and more prosperous. In Canada, we are reaching out to women around the world to join with us. We are here to help.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and la Francophonie.

Pamela Goldsmith-Jones is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.

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