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Minister Leitch delivers Head of Canadian Delegation Statement at the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

NEW YORK, March 11, 2014 /CNW/ -


Madame Chair, distinguished delegates:

As Canada's Minister of Status of Women and Minister of Labour, I am pleased to address the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. 

Canada has been a strong supporter of the Millennium Development Goals and has taken substantial action toward their achievement. This is especially true in areas such as maternal, newborn and child health, food security and nutrition, gender equality, health, and sustainable economic growth. 

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

Advancing the maternal, newborn and child health agenda, for example, has been a key objective for Canada. Our G8 Muskoka Initiative helped to raise $7.3 billion worldwide from 2010-2015; Canada alone has committed a total of $2.85 billion to this initiative over five years.

Canada has emphasized the need to put the poorest and most vulnerable, including women and children, at the core of the post-2015 development agenda, in order to tackle the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. Promoting gender equality, health, women's economic empowerment, and investing in girls will all remain a priority.  

Child, Early and Forced Marriage

Canada has intensified diplomacy and development efforts to end child, early and forced marriage.

The devastating effects of child, early and forced marriage are indisputable.  I am very proud to be able to say that Canada has taken a strong stance against this practice, and is leading international efforts to address it.

Above all, we strongly condemn this practice as a violation of basic human rights.  It is a form of violence.  It jeopardizes the physical and mental health of girls and it prevents them from getting an education.

But it doesn't stop there.  In addition to being an egregious violation of girls' rights, the damage done by this violence touches the families and communities these girls live in, and impacts the world.

Canada places a high priority on the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society.  We know that a significant reduction in the numbers, and hopefully, ultimately the elimination, of child, early and forced marriages will result in a healthier and more secure society, increased development, and a more prosperous society.

Canada is taking action.  We led a new resolution highlighting this issue at last year's UN General Assembly and actively participated in the core group that developed a resolution at the Human Rights Council.

Canada also recently announced $5 million to tackle the causes and consequences of child, early and forced marriage in countries around the world.

For example, in Zimbabwe, Canada is working with partners to empower girls from the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the country.  This is being achieved by building social skills, challenging stereotypes, promoting girls' ambitions, and providing education on the consequences of child, early and forced marriage.

Human Rights

The protection of human rights - including the rights of girls and women - is a core value and one of our most important foreign policy priorities.

To this end, Canada has committed $527 million in development assistance to Afghanistan between 2011 and 2017. This funding will support programs that promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls, in areas such as health, education and humanitarian assistance.  This includes projects that focus on institutional support. We are, for example, the largest funder of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which is the only Afghan institution with the constitutional mandate to promote, protect, monitor and document human rights violations in Afghanistan.

In Conclusion

I look forward to our discussions this week during the Commission, and, in particular,  exchanging ideas on how we can work together to develop a post-2015 development agenda that addresses maternal, newborn and child health, sustainable economic growth, and other urgent issues facing women and girls.

Thank you.

SOURCE Status of Women Canada

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