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

VIDEO: Call goes out for B.C. wildfire relief supplies

Chilliwack volunteers hope to load a 53-foot trailer with practical donations before heading into the firezone

UFV baseball coach returns to pro ranks

Jordan Lennerton, who also coaches at ‘The Yard’ in Chilliwack, played 1 game for the Quebec Capitales

Camp Ignite aims to inspire future first responders

Four-day camp offers young women a chance to experience the challenges of being a first responder

General aviation traffic down to a trickle at Chilliwack Airport

Minimum visibility guidelines can’t be met when conditions are so smoky you can’t see the mountains

At least 14 illegal fires set between Chilliwack and Hope this month

Conservation officers are fed up with people not listening to the province-wide fire ban

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Date rapist left victims with ‘long-lasting, emotional scars,’ judge says

Klifford Kenyon of Abbotsford sentenced to additional two years in prison

Fire in barn that housed therapy horses has been confirmed an arson

Abbotsford Police Department is now investigating and seeks witnesses

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Most Read