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Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment

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Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and a top priority for Canada and its G7 Presidency. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are critical to building peace, reducing poverty, and growing our economies.

To create economic growth that works for everyone, we need to remove barriers that hold people back. Still today, half of our population does not benefit from equal access to education and opportunities. Making sure that women can fully participate in promoting democracy, advancing the economy, achieving peace and security and addressing climate change is not just the right thing to do – it is the smart thing to do. Gender equality leads to growth that benefits us all.

Importance of Education

Women's and girls’ education has a key role to play in resolving global challenges, which is why Canada is engaging with the international community to ensure that women and girls have access to quality education, particularly in crisis and conflict situations.

Everyone benefits when women and girls have an equal chance at success and are able to freely participate in society. While there is still work to do, both national and international efforts and investments are making a difference.

At the G7 Summit, Canada, along with the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank, announced an investment of nearly $3.8 billion CAD to support quality education for women and girls living in crisis, conflict-affected and fragile states. This funding represents the single largest investment of its kind.

G7 Leaders also agreed to the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls, and Women in Developing Countries, to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the opportunity for at least 12 years of safe and quality education for all, and to removing the barriers to girls’ and women’s quality education.

Sexual and gender-based violence

Sexual and gender-based violence – including abuse and harassment – are unacceptable, and only serve as obstacles to a free and equal society. They have devastating health and social impacts on the lives of individuals, families, communities and societies as a whole. Canada is committed to eliminating sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms.

At the G7 Summit, leaders agreed to the Charlevoix Commitment to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Abuse, and Harassment in Digital Contexts, and that they would strive for a future where an individual’s human rights are equally protected both offline and online.

Canada recently launched “It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence” to lay the foundation for greater action on this issue at home. The Strategy focuses on three pillars – prevention, support for survivors and families, and promoting a responsive legal and justice systems – and aims to fill in existing gaps in support for diverse populations.

Canada has also adopted a feminist approach to its international assistance policy, which recognizes that sexual and gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive and egregious human rights violations. The Feminist International Assistance Policy outlines actions to combat sexual and gender-based violence, including support for comprehensive approaches and raising awareness of rights among women and girls to promote increased access to justice and support for survivors.

Women’s and girls’ rights are human rights – and that includes their sexual and reproductive rights. Canada is committed to promoting the health and well-being of women and girls, including access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information.

Advancing gender equality

Canada recognizes the need to increase investments in policies and international initiatives and is committed to work with its G7 partners to promote women’s rights internationally.

Canada is determined to apply a gender lens to all G7 discussions this year, and make sure everyone’s voices and perspectives – regardless of their gender identity – are taken into account. Gender equality is a guiding theme of our G7 Presidency.

To support this year’s theme, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, created the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency, which will continue to support leaders and ministers in ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are integrated across all themes, activities, and initiatives of Canada’s G7 Presidency. Canada hopes that this year’s G7 marks the start of a new tradition where gender equality will continue to be a cross-cutting theme of G7 presidencies.

Canada also wants to work with G7 partners – and other domestic and international partners – to realize a future where the same human rights that people have offline are protected online. While technology has an important role to play in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, it also has the potential to perpetuate new forms of violence, abuse, and harassment. Everyone – regardless of gender identity – should feel safe in all spaces, online and offline.