Canada puts international assistance to work for women, girls

UNICEF Canada responds to Government of Canada's new international assistance policy

TORONTO, June 9, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, unveiled the Government's new international assistance policy. The feminist-focused policy builds on the Government's commitment to advance gender equality and girls' and women's empowerment around the world. David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO, had the following response to the announcement:

"We're pleased to see Canada take the lead towards a global culture shift to empower women and girls. This new Feminist International Assistance Policy provides us with a critical opportunity to advance the empowerment and well-being of a significant segment of the world's population that is at risk of being left out of global progress: 1.1 billion girls. They are left behind because of a lack of education, they are denied opportunities because of child and forced marriage, they lack access to the health services that are their right. By increasing investments in girls in particular, we can tackle social exclusion and discrimination and overcome the barriers that create inequalities for women.

As the UN agency for children, we expected to see children play a more prominent role in the International Assistance Policy. While disappointing that children are not explicitly front and centre, looking forward we hope to see Canada continue to protect and realize the rights of children through the policy's six areas of action. When we invest in the rights and well-being of girls and boys today they are empowered as agents of change now and tomorrow.

In a world of rising inequality, ever-changing shifts in demographics and migration and significant protracted conflicts, Canada's response must not only address these global challenges but seize and bring about new opportunities. We know that healthy, safe, educated and empowered children and women are the key to a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

In 2015, the world agreed to an ambitious agenda for sustainable development. With Canada's focus on Sustainable Development Goal #5, there is a role for everyone in realizing gender equality. We must empower women and girls to shape and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. We must seek to engage men and boys as agents of change in promoting equality. This new International Assistance Policy will help ensure that girls and young women around the world have the opportunities to reach their full potential – as the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

The six areas of action will also allow Canada to play a critical role in advancing the broader set of goals. We must promote clean growth and climate action that prioritizes the most vulnerable. We must speak out for human rights—including the rights of all girls and boys. We must respond to humanitarian crises and the needs of children and families who have been displaced.

Achieving the SDGs will be no easy feat. But by working through multilateral organizations like UNICEF that are already on the ground championing these priorities, and with the support of Canada and all Canadians, we can get there.

We look forward to working together to continue addressing the most urgent needs of girls and boys and their families around the world."

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in more than 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit


For further information: For interviews or more information, please contact: Stefanie Carmichael, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8866,


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