Prime Minister Trudeau delivers opening remarks at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference
RT HON. JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Hello everyone.
RT HON. JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Welcome to Vancouver. What a great turnout for what I know will be a truly historic week. Thank you for being here, for making the trip and for bringing your expertise and your ideas with you to Canada. I know that we’ve got folks from around the world on the Livestream too, this summit is truly bringing people together. I want to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional Coast Salish Territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish peoples, and I thank them for their opening welcome.
And of course, I also have to take a second to thank Katja for her kind introduction and mostly for her incredible legendary leadership.
I would also like to thank all those who have mobilized for Women Deliver over the past year, activists, community leaders, feminists. The progress we've made is thanks to you. Thank you for drawing our attention to the gaps that persist, we need you now more than ever.
I think you all have simultaneous interpretation on your chairs, so don’t be shy about using it. We’re in Canada.
My friends, I can think of no better place for this summit than here in Canada. Afterall, we’re a country built on diversity. A country that knows that we’re stronger together, embracing our differences and using our collective power to drive change. As a father, I can say without a doubt that there’s no where else I’d rather raise my daughter, Ella-Grace and my sons Hadrien and Xavier.
But the rights we enjoy in Canada and the rights so many have enjoyed around the world are not guaranteed. Progress can backslide; we’re seeing it happen. Gender equality is under attack and I can only imagine how hard it is to be a feminist on the front lines. But that’s the history of women’s right; every step forward it met by another push-back. Women routinely face misogyny, racism and hatred. And for women living with disabilities, discrimination is all too often the norm, not the exception.
In the age of social media, it’s never been easier to taunt and spread abhorrent views -- views that are increasingly creeping into our public debates. Individuals and interest groups are trying to roll back women’s rights and politicians are giving in to the pressure, shamefully campaigning to undo women’s hard-won victories. That’s a daunting reality to face, but my friends we are not powerless. It’s up to us to fight back; women, men and gender-diverse people, allies, neighbors and communities, all of us standing together. All of us standing strong.
We’re here at Women Deliver because we believe in a better future. We’re here because of the strength and determination of women who’ve seen injustice firsthand and refused to turn away. And now their legacy falls to us, to all of you, to governments, to the grassroots and to citizens.
My friends, there’s still a lot of work to do. Women are more likely than men to be victims of violence and to live in poverty. Women earn less than men for the same work. All over the world, girls are still fighting for their right to go to school, women are dying from curable diseases, and still today, a woman's fundamental right to choose what she wants to do with her own body is being called into question.
These are major challenges that women still face. auxquels les femmes sont encore confrontées. Major challenges that won’t disappear all on their own. If we want change, we have to demand change.
In 2015, we committed to putting gender equality at the heart of everything we do as a government. We promised to address the very real changes facing women in Canada and in countries around the world. And that’s meant grappling with issues like sexism and misogyny, racism and colonialism. These challenges are complex and layered, so we won’t always get it right, but we will always keep trying.
We know that we cannot begin to address injustice if we do not first understand the concept of intersectionality. A woman of colour faces specific barriers. Unique and different barriers from those of an LGBTQ2 person, who also faces prejudices that are different from those of an Indigenous woman. We must recognize that discrimination takes many forms, and we have to take action to put an end to it.
This morning in fact was another significant step towards justice for Indigenous women in Canada. For too long Indigenous women and girls have experienced violence at a rate that is staggering when compared to non-Indigenous women. Just over a month after forming government, we announced the creation of a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls, following the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
An inquiry that we launched on based the steadfast advocacy of families and survivors. We promised Canadians that we would start this process; a process that would ultimately chart a path for the future. Earlier this morning the National Inquiry formally presented their final report, in which they found that the tragic violence that Indigenous women and girls have experienced amounts to genocide.
The strength of the families and survivors who bravely shared their truths has shown us the way forward. We will do a thorough review of this report and develop and implement a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.
Working with Indigenous partners to determine next steps, we will include Indigenous women and girls, the voices of LGBTQ and two-spirit people, and family members and survivors. Our country can and must do better. And. We. Will!
We know that it’s time to put an end to violence against all women, including trans gender, non-binary and two-spirit people…
Which is why we launched the first-ever national strategy on gender-based violence. And we know that advancing gender equality hinges on economic equality too, we will continue to demand that women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value.
That everyone has a safe place to live and that parents can share the joys and responsibilities of raising children.
As Canadians, we also refuse to turn a blind eye to the difficulties faced by women beyond our borders. Through our Feminist International Assistance Policy, we continue to help the most vulnerable. We support community-driven efforts to promote the empowerment of women, whether socially, politically or economically, because that’s a job not limited to just one investment or one community. We must integrate gender equality into everything we do.
Take for example the Advisory Council on Gender Equality, which was established to ensure that G7 themes, activities and outcomes take into account women’s unique perspectives and experiences. At the same time, it is a responsibility that belongs not only to Canada, but to the countries of the world. I am thinking of, among other things, the Charlevoix Declaration, which we concluded with our partners who shared our values and objectives. Canada, the European Union, the World Bank and other countries have committed themselves to investing to make gender equality a reality. We must absolutely join forces to defend what everyone in the room knows all too well, that women’s rights are human rights. This is true in Canada and around the world.
So let me be clear, our government will always be your partner. Willing to admit when mistakes are made and working very hard to build a better future for all our children. My friends, I know, and you know that we can’t take our foot off the pedal, not even for a moment. There’s simply too much at stake. But Canada’s leadership isn’t going anywhere. We will be that strong voice, your steadfast ally, not just when it’s popular but always unconditionally.
We will keep working with you to move forward and to build more sustainable, more inclusive communities and movements. So, let us use this week to get inspired, to learn from each other and to recommit to a brighter tomorrow for women and girls everywhere. Together we are stronger, and together we can change our neighborhoods, our countries and our world for the better.
Thank you very much, everyone.