Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at the Civil Society 7 meeting in Ottawa
It’s a great pleasure to be here with so many fantastic leaders of organizations from Canada and all of the G7. I want to start by thanking each one of you for your work on the most important issues our world is facing today. Civil society is at the heart of the democratic process. You give a voice to the most vulnerable, and you ensure that those who are too often left out are included.
Let me begin by thanking each and every one of you for your tireless efforts in speaking up for the issues that you care about. You help to ensure that we as leaders hear from people in all corners of society, including at the very margins. People that wouldn’t otherwise have a voice. So thank you for your advocacy and for your ongoing commitment to justice.
The folks in this room know that the only way to address the interconnected issues facing our communities is to bring people together because, after all, so many of our goals are shared. Climate change doesn’t care about jurisdictions. Humanitarian crises spill over borders. Economic growth is unequal within and between countries.
These are uncertain times and only by working together can we overcome the multitude of challenges we face. Let’s build on the successes we’ve jointly created like the pan‑Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. You and indigenous communities help make that happen, and I know there are lots of people in this room who will make sure we do even better. Together we can make the future brighter.
Every time one engages a woman in the democratic process, you amplify her voice and empower her to transform the norms and institutions that have historically excluded her. Her voice and those like it inspire us to work with other G7 countries to invest in women and girls, including in places of conflict and crisis. My government is committed to amplifying the voices of all people, which is why we’re finding new ways of connecting with folks over social media and through the internet. It’s about having conversations with young women and men about how the G7 can break down barriers to create opportunities for the world’s most marginalized people.
I’m proud that one of the primary initiatives we hope to achieve at this year’s G7 is a meaningful commitment to, and invest in girls’ education, especially in crisis and conflict‑affected states. We’ve heard from so many of you about how important it is that girls have access to 12 years of free, safe, and quality gender-responsive education. Working with civil society partners and other G7 countries, we hope that investing in education will be one of the legacies of this year’s G7.
My friends, just as so many of you give a voice to women and girls, many of you also advocate for an economic growth that works for everyone. We see it around the world. People are nervous of getting left behind in an ever-changing job market -- people are worried about not even being able to access an ever-changing job market. I hear those concerns. I know that we have to support economic growth that strengthens the middle class here and around the world so that our citizens can have a bright future, and those who aspire to joining the middle class someday can feel there’s a path for them.
We’re negotiating progressive trade deals that put the protection of workers and minority rights at their core, and I know that isn’t the end of what we need to do. You remind us that governments must take actions to help workers develop the skills they need for the jobs of the future – a future that includes women as empowered participants. The numbers are there.
If we were to reach gender equality throughout the world, we would be able to increase the global GDP by many thousands of billions of dollars in just a decade. As a proud feminist, women’s empowerment is the right thing to do. As a leader who wants to grow our economy, it’s also the intelligent thing to do, and in this long journey that will bring us to greater equality and better opportunities, I know that working with civil society is not an option, but indeed a necessity.
You’re our allies as we seek to implement a more progressive agenda, both at home and abroad. When you defend the rule of law, you stand up for equal treatment for all citizens. When you call on governments to invest in development and humanitarian relief, you remind us of our responsibilities as one of the world’s most advanced economies. And by implementing Canada’s feminist international assistance policy, and by investing in our women’s voice and leadership program, we’re investing in you.
We need you to help us deliver grassroots results that protect women and girls’ rights and ensure their security. Currently, one in three women worldwide has experienced gender-based violence. That is unacceptable. No matter where they are in the world, everyone has the right to live free from violence. As I said to the W7 and the Gender Equality Advisory Council last month, keep pushing us to be bold in meeting the targets you’ve set for the G7. We need that. We need your voices challenging the status quo, bringing discussions of gender, LGBTQ2 rights, the environment, and economic security into the mainstream.
During our G7 presidency, Canada appointed the Gender Equality Advisory Council, outstanding leaders who will put gender equality at the very core of G7 decisions. This has already begun to transform the work of the G7. To achieve real equality, we need to reimagine our social, economic, political and legal structures.
So, at last, I’d like to ask everyone in this room to keep going – to keep redefining the agenda. And with you as partners, we will make progress for all Canadians, and by working with civil society from all G7 countries, we are going to make a real difference in the world and in the lives of people around the globe.
Thank you again for being her this afternoon. I know that together, we will accomplish a lot. Thanks very much.