Like many Canadians, I have struggled to understand the importance of something as seemingly mundane as water. With our Great Lakes and mighty rivers, we're used to seeing water everywhere. I began appreciating how critical water is to survival when visiting the Kurdish region of northern Iraq with World Vision last month.
The prime minister and officials in Global Affairs Canada have indicated through both words and action a desire to create a more collaborative and consultative relationship with Civil Society Organizations . But are Canadian CSOs taking advantage of the thaw to engage in advocacy to hold the government to account for the impacts of its policies on global justice?
A key part of being feminist is respecting all people's choices about their own bodies. While a gender-balanced cabinet is a step in the right direction, there is no such thing as gender equality without bodily autonomy. If women aren't able to make decisions about their own bodies, equality is null and void.
Roughly one billion women and girls worldwide -- almost 30 times the population of Canada -- suffer from malnutrition. This has catastrophic consequences not only for them and for their children, but for the world, as the loss of women's full potential hinders the social and economic development of entire countries.
What is a remittance? Simply put, the process of sending money internationally from Canada to a friend or family member in a foreign country. Globally, the flows of remittances have grown substantially in recent years. Even with a projected slowdown in 2015, the World Bank recently predicted total remittances to 'developing countries' would exceed $435 Billion USD. To put it in context, official development assistance/foreign aid in 2014 was estimated at just over $135 Billion USD globally.
In the summer of 2008, Canada's (now) Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott, was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she met with Ethiopian colleagues to explore the possibility of establishing family medicine as a formal discipline in the East African country of 90 million people. For the next decade, she would help spread an initiative to help launch such a program in the East African nation.
For every tragic incident in the world today, there are countless more women and men humanitarians -- changemakers -- making the world a better place in their own respective capacities. Light is more potent and powerful in effacing darkness; let's each of us resolve to spread more light around us, in our communities, and throughout our world.
If Canada is really "back," as our Prime Minister has announced, and if we are to make Canada a leader in development innovation and effectiveness, then we need to understand why Canada's development influence has contracted this severely and what changes could be made to improve our performance in a range of areas.
Development is sensitive, political, difficult and often surprisingly controversial work, and the changes sought can be difficult to measure or quantify. Transformative agendas cannot be accomplished through an obsession with "bang for the buck" and the pressure to demonstrate numerical impact within short periods of time.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a commitment ratified by the United Nations and 193 signatory states -- the largest participation since the UN's inception. These SDGs are not about environmentalism; they're about the sustainable direction of the world -- be it social, socio-economic, or environmental.
The SDGs represent an opportunity for Canada to examine how it can engage globally and how it can exercise leadership, both at home and abroad, to address sustainable development challenges. However, unless -- and until -- the financial aspects of the SDGs are properly addressed, the post-2015 agenda will remain a set of elusive goals.
By the time you read this column, my membership in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario will likely be revoked (if not, I will resign). I will no longer be the director of a riding association in the Toronto Centre Conservative Association. This is not because I am no longer useful to the once-proud party of Bill Davis, John Robarts and, yes, Christine Elliott, but because I am coming out against comrade Stephen Harper -- our party's federal counterpart. The Stephen Harper era has made us too partisan, extremely fearful of our neighbours, cheerleaders in world affairs, less tolerant to new immigrants and refugees and mere observers in the affairs of our country -- instead of active actors.
Pregnancy is still one of the leading causes of death of girls in developing countries between 15 and 18. Worldwide, 16,000 children under five die every day. Girls and boys are left behind because of who they are or where they live. Women and girls from ethnic minorities have fared worst, and discriminated against because of their sex and race. Girls living in towns or cities are much more likely to have access to a skilled birth attendant than young women living in remote parts.
On Sept. 28, 2015, The Munk Centre will host Canada's first-ever federal election debate. We can expect to see any number of key issues on the table -- Canada's track record on trade and investment, engagement in Syria, our approach to Palestine and Israel, refugee policy -- There is a lot of ground to cover. For international development, there is really one key question: Will parties commit to increasing Canada's foreign aid budget?
When we ask our political leaders to talk about issues affecting women what we're asking for is a conversation about the unseen and largely unacknowledged inequalities that affect girls and women throughout their lives. I have a daughter. Like every Canadian woman, she's growing up in a country where to be female is to be overrepresented in poorly paid part-time work; under-represented at every level of authority and power; and so devalued as a worker that virtually any sector that attracts a female workforce pays less than sectors dominated by males.
In September, I take up my new responsibilities in Geneva, Switzerland as Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament. The UN reflects the dreams and aspirations of not just Canadians but of the world. My new role will allow me to address global challenges from a different perspective than I've had at Plan Canada, but as I prepare to leave I reflect on a few proud accomplishments that bolster my confidence and hope for the future.
his year has already become the worst year since 1945 for children who have been displaced and forced to flee as refugees, and for children who had their schools attacked and destroyed. Canadians should know about these crises, their impacts on children, and how youth can be better protected and educated in emergency situations.
Despite repeated requests from the NDP and Canadian civil society, the Conservatives refused to increase the Official Development Assistance budget. Canada now ranks among the worst OECD countries for ODA spending. Not only does this directly limit our ability to fulfill our mandate of poverty eradication, it hurts our credibility as a reliable partner for international development.