Gender Equality: Will our Leaders be Up For Debate?

This article was originally published on Huffington Post’s Un seul monde blog. It is written by Chantal Havard, Communications and Government Relations Officer at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC).

upfordebate2_eEvery year when it comes time to celebrate International Women’s Day, I think of all the inspiring women who have crossed my path.

I think of Rosa Jimena in Peru, who kept her family afloat thanks to a sewing machine purchased with micro-credit after her husband abandoned the family home. I think of Bernadette in Burkina Faso, a young woman who was initially too shy to speak up in public but eventually took charge of an entire women’s shea butter cooperative.

I think of my aunt Janine, now 85 years old, who defied her father’s authority at the age of 25 to go live and work in Montreal — at a time when independent (and single!) women were far from the norm.

All these women have shown courage and resilience. They were also supported by people and organizations who believed in them and in their potential. In 2015, the struggle for women’s rights is still relevant, both in Canada and abroad. Due to cultural, religious and economic barriers, too many women today still fail to reach their greatest potential.

The profound changes needed to truly change women’s lives for the better require commitment and ambitious political action. They must also be subject to public debate.

Which leads me to ask this you question: how many leaders’ debates have taken place in the history of our federal politics on issues that specifically affect women? Eight? Five? Three?

Just one.

And that one occurred thirty years ago, in the days when John Turner, Brian Mulroney and Ed Broadbent led the three main federal political parties.

While most of us recognize that the status of women in Canada and around the world has improved considerably in recent decades, the news reminds us daily that there are still many battles to be fought on the path towards gender equality.

Whether in Afghanistan where women are considered minors, in the US Army where there is a culture of rape, or right here at home where the government’s refusal to conduct a thorough investigation into the disappearance and murder of hundreds of aboriginal women suggests that they are second class citizens, there are still too many hurdles that prevent women from living freely and participating fully in their communities.

It is for this reason that an alliance of more than one hundred organizations across the country, created just a few months ago, is calling upon our federal political leaders to commit to a debate on issues that specifically affect women in the lead up the next federal election.

Together, this group has launched the Up for Debate campaign to spark a pan-Canadian discussion on gender justice and equality. It is also a call to all political parties to make meaningful commitments to change women’s lives for the better, both here and abroad.

Up for Debate asks parties to:

  • Get serious about ending violence against women and girls
  • Take action to end women’s economic inequalities
  • Support women’s leadership

To date, Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May have agreed to participate in a debate, but Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper have not. The Alliance for Women’s Rights launched a petition in mid-February asking the two leaders to join the debate.

Will our political leaders make room for such a debate? On behalf of all the Rosas, Bernadettes and Janines of the world, those who face daily gender-based discrimination, those who live with abusive partners, and those who leave war-torn countries for refugee camps that are no safer for them, I truly hope so.

15 Proposals for Canadian Foreign Aid

This article was first published in English in CIPS website. CCIC is thankful for permission to repost. The French version of this essay was published on the Huffington Post Québec blog Un seul monde on January 8, 2015.

When the Harper government abolished the Canadian International Development Agency and transferred its functions to the newly renamed Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) in 2013, it promised “more efficient, effective and targeted programming”. This institutional reorganization, however, will do little in and of itself to improve Canadian aid.

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15 propositions pour l’aide canadienne

Ce billet du blogue Un seul monde a été écrit par Stephen Brown, professeur titulaire de science politique à l’Université d’Ottawa, co-directeur de l’ouvrage collectif Rethinking Canadian Aid et membre du Groupe McLeod. Ce texte résume ses propos tenus lors de la conférence « Où va la coopération internationale au Québec et au Canada? » organisée par le blogue Un seul monde le vendredi 7 novembre 2014. Nous remercions le blogue Un seul monde pour la permission de re-publier sur le blogue du CCCI.

Lorsque le gouvernement Harper a aboli l’Agence canadienne de développement international et transféré ses fonctions au nouveau ministère des Affaires étrangères, du Commerce et du Développement (MAECD) en 2013, il a promis des « programmes mieux ciblés, plus efficaces et plus efficients ». Cependant, ce réaménagement institutionnel ne fera que peu en soi pour améliorer l’aide canadienne.

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Civil Society Perspectives on Youth Engagement in Canada

Stacey co-facilitating a workshop on farmer innovation in the Upper West Region, Ghana in 2009

Stacey co-facilitating a workshop on farmer innovation in the Upper West Region, Ghana in 2009


Kimberly conducting research on urban agriculture with city farmers in Dakar, Senegal, in 2011.

Kimberly conducting research on urban agriculture with city farmers in Dakar, Senegal, in 2011.

As the face of 21st century social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring demonstrate, young people are at the forefront of societal change. To quote one civil society representative at a recent Roundtable on Youth Engagement in Global Issues, youth are our “hope to change the status quo”.

Convened by the McLeod Group, a number of civil society experts on youth engagement and international development met on November 6, 2014. Recognizing that our country lacks a comprehensive strategy for engaging youth in global issues, aside from youth-oriented volunteer sending programs, representatives from over 20 Canadian and international civil society organizations gathered to share their insights for a policy paper on the matter. Civil society representatives also took the opportunity to collectively reflect on their strategies for youth engagement in a candid manner. While highlighting some best practices in the field, they also raised critical questions about civil society’s engagement of youth on global issues, including the following:

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Canada’s Lackluster Response to the Ebola Crisis

momaraTo date the Ebola virus has killed 6928 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia as the number of total Ebola cases nears 16000. What has Canada’s contribution been in fighting this disease?

The government of Canada initially came under fire earlier this month after choosing to donate $30.5 million dollars, which would mainly be spent on research for vaccines, while international aid organizations continued to press for a greater contribution of health care professionals to care for the sick.

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Où va la coopération internationale au Québec et au Canada?

Ce billet du blogue Un seul monde a été écrit par Charles Saliba-Couture, fondateur et coordonnateur du blogue et chargé de projets au Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en développement international et société (CIRDIS). Charles est également assistant aux communications au CCCI.

Dans les derniers mois, plusieurs nouvelles d’importance en matière de coopération internationale, sur la scène canadienne et québécoise, ont fait les manchettes. Le bilan n’est pas très beau et il n’y a pas que le secteur de la coopération internationale qui soit en danger. Il y a aussi, et peut-être surtout, notre démocratie.











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Staying on message won’t change a thing

brian_emmettThis blog post originally published by Imagine Canada. CCIC is a member of Imagine Canada.

When asked how she managed to raise such perfect children, Miss Manners replied “a generation of constant nagging.” Nagging is such a negative term. I prefer its more polite equivalent – “staying on message”.  Both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations know the importance of this.

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Canada uses World Conference to continue attack on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are outraged that the federal government used a high level United Nations forum on Indigenous rights as an opportunity to continue its unprincipled attack on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On Monday Sept.22, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples – a high level plenary of the UN General Assembly in New York – adopted a consensus statement reaffirming support for the UN Declaration.

Canada was the only member state to raise objections.

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As 87 Canadian universities open their doors, an important one closes

This month as Canadian universities opened their doors to begin another academic year, the North South Institute (NSI), a world-renowned Ottawa-based think tank, closed theirs after nearly forty years of independent policy research relating to international development and foreign affairs.

The closure comes at a time when students across the country are flooding to classrooms to pursue studies with a global mandate. At the University of Ottawa for example, enrolment in the International Development and Globalization program has doubled between 2004 and 2013, with almost a thousand students enrolled last year. Similar trends are taking place in other programs across Canada.

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Partnership at the core of revitalized education agenda

“Education doesn’t have a price, it has a value.”
Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Education, Senegal

Natalie PoulsonThe burning question that the Global Partnership for Education grapples with everyday is, “What does it take to ensure that every child benefits from the transformational power of education?” The answer that we’ve been banking on: Partnership.

The dust is settling on last replenishment conference of the Global Partnership for Education, and my head is still reeling from the historic accomplishment.

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