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

Number-one bud: Q.C. cannabis store could be the first on Haida Gwaii

A local business owner is looking to open the first licensed cannabis… Continue reading

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

December windstorms led to record ferry cancellations

Baileys for breakfast? It may not be what the doctor ordered, but… Continue reading

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

On the Wing: Christmas Bird Count #4 — Skidegate Inlet

By Margo Hearne The marine forecast read “winds northwest 15 to 25… Continue reading

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Former welfare clients still owed money, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Investigation found 2,600 people docked illegally for earning income

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Most Read