In an effort to pursue the goal of ending poverty and inequality, Global Affairs Canada’s new policy, named the Feminist International Assistance Policy, will have partners from around the globe consult local women to develop more efficient initiatives based on their needs and priorities.
“Women and girls are powerful agents of change,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Canada’s International Development and La Francophonie. “They have the ability to transform their households, their communities and the economies of their countries. With the right interventions, governed by sound public policy, women and girls can [do many things].”
Empowered women have the potential to contribute to economic growth, significantly reduce poverty, have more prosperous families, and help build a more peaceful world, according to Bibeau.
“I’m profoundly convinced from evidence and all the descriptions I’ve had in the field, that when you give a woman the capacity to improve her life, it will improve the life of her children and of her family,” she said. “It gets the ball rolling.”
Focusing on the local level of poverty and gender inequality issues will provide better insight on how to target the problems when developing initiatives. 15 percent of international development projects are currently aimed directly at gender-transformative initiatives that deal with empowerment and equality, according to Guelph Today.
“We know that we still have significant work to do in Canada,” Bibeau said. “Particularly in the context of our reconciliation projects with indigenous peoples to fully uphold their right, to give them access to the services they need and to ensure justice for the hundreds of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”
Rather than be gender-blind, the goal of this new policy is to be gender-conscious in order to work toward sustainable results of equality. It isn’t about masking the problem of gender inequality – it’s about targeting the core of the issue to ensure effective steps are taken forward, not backward.
The representation is there, yet women still aren’t equal. Poverty and gender equality are two sides of a coin that influences Canada’s decisions in foreign trade and international policies.
“We will not break the vicious cycle of poverty and violence without stepping up efforts to amplify the voices of women and girls and support their opportunities to choose their own future and fully contribute to their community,” said Bibeau.
The strategic method of honing in on women at the local level first will lead to programs and campaigns designed to target their specific concerns, thereby being more effective than an umbrella initiative that may or may not solve a local woman’s poverty or inequality problem. Solutions begin with the foundation, and in this case, perhaps true equality begins by listening to the people who experience the disparity the most–locals.
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