Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Don’t forget about women left to sweep up shards of glass ceiling, W7 urges G7

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau champions gender equality at the G7 he is being asked to raise the concerns of marginalized women

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being asked to raise the concerns of marginalized women — not just female business leaders — when he champions gender equality around the G7 table at a resort in La Malbaie, Que., in June.

The Liberal government is making gender equality a major theme of its G7 presidency this year, including with expected proposals on the economic empowerment of women and increasing the rate of female participation in the male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Grassroots feminist activists in Ottawa for the ‘W7’ summit this week are reminding the Liberals that women and girls living in poverty and other difficult conditions around the world — including in Canada — know best how their lives could be improved and it is time for the G7 to listen.

Related: ‘Enough is enough’: G7 ministers agree to call Russia out

“We want the G7 to think more broadly, beyond the focus only on women’s economic empowerment or women entrepreneurs,” said Julie Delahanty, executive director of Oxfam Canada.

“Women’s economic empowerment is key, but we don’t want that agenda to be narrowly defined or for the leaders to neglect other important issues.”

The group of about 70 activists from 20 countries are in Ottawa to craft their own set of recommendations for how Canada and other G7 nations could improve the lives of women and girls, including on climate change, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health rights.

They shared many of those ideas with Trudeau in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that Delahanty described as challenging but productive.

Those in the room pressed the prime minister on everything from safe drinking water in Canada to the link between the extractive industries and violence against women, Delahanty said. Trudeau’s response, she added, showed he is knowledgeable about the concerns of the feminist movement — including by engaging on how to get funding to human rights groups.

“He was a strong participant in that conversation, understanding some of the limitations in what you’re able to do at a G7, what you’re able to do as a leader of a country.”

While the activists plan to keep pushing, she said, there is also an understanding that even a first step towards incorporating gender equality into the G7 summit process can be a big one.

“One G7 meeting isn’t going to change the future trajectory of the world, but I think it can have an impact in just discussing these issues and having leaders hear about them,” Delahanty said.

Prior to the meeting, Trudeau gave a short speech in which he described how he hopes Canada’s commitment to advancing gender issues at the G7 will help shake things up.

“Canada is using our G7 presidency to challenge the status quo,” he said, adding that he wants the G7 gender equality council, which includes W7 high-profile members such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, to become a permanent part of the summit process.

Related: G7 warned of Russian threats to western democracy

Yousafzai won’t be there when the council holds its first in-person meeting in Ottawa this week, but most of the other members — including billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund — will be in attendance.

Trudeau also told the activists he would be listening to their ideas and their concerns. “I thank you for pushing us and for never allowing anyone to get complacent.”

There is always plenty of talk about breaking the proverbial glass ceiling, Shalini Konanur, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, said earlier in the day. But a lot of women, their needs ignored, are being left behind to sweep up the shards, she added.

Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund, said it would be a shame to lose the momentum sparked by the #MeToo movement on sexual assault and harassment, but it is important to remember there are women and girls around the globe who have never heard of the hashtag.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Catalyst Paper to sell U.S. mills to Chinese company

Sale will allow company to focus on B.C. interests, says president Ned Dwyer

Alberni university zeroes in on disability and poverty

BY MIKE YOUDS SPECIAL TO THE NEWS The road to poverty can… Continue reading

Celebrate cycling in Port Alberni during Bike to Work and School Week

Numerous ‘celebration stations’ are planned for May 28 to June 2

Ahousaht welcomes massive Surfrider Canada conference to Meares Island near Tofino

“It was the first time we’ve all come together.”

Alberni RCMP kept busy with 170 calls over May long weekend

Detachment answers calls from fatal vehicle crash to man with a gun, trailer thefts

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

B.C. teacher charged with sexual offences involving two teens

Henry Kang, 50, of Abbotsford charged with two counts each sex assault and sexual exploitation

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Most Read