Justin Trudeau kicks off world's largest women's rights conference in Vancouver

Jun 4 2019, 6:22 am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was met with cheers and heckling as he opened up the world’s largest conference on gender equality taking place in Vancouver.

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Trudeau spoke at the opening of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, which brings together over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, academics, advocates, and change-makers, with the goal to advance progress for girls and women around the world.

Trudeau addressed the crowd in Vancouver hours after the Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report was released on Monday morning. 

“This morning, in fact, was another significant step toward justice for Indigenous women in Canada,” said Trudeau, who was interrupted by some audience members yelling “shame” as he spoke.

Trudeau acknowledged that the report referred to the death of Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ people in Canada as a “genocide” — a word he did not use in his speech earlier today in Gatineau, Quebec.

The Prime Minister said that Canada “won’t always get it right” when it comes to facing the challenges associated with gender equality — including sexism, misogyny, racism, and colonialism.

“These challenges are complex and layered,” he said, adding that Canada will “always keep trying” to overcome them.

Trudeau will be back at the Women Deliver Conference tomorrow morning and is expected to make a funding announcement.

“The Women Deliver Conference will be a truly historic week. I look forward to joining many grassroots leaders and advocates who have dedicated their lives to defending and advancing women’s rights,” he said.

We know we can’t take our foot off the pedal, not even for a moment. I’ll be at the conference to show Canada’s leadership on gender equality isn’t going anywhere, and that we’re not just speaking up, but stepping up too.”

Following his address, Trudeau took part in a discussion on the main stage with high-profile attendees, including President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Sahle-Work Zewde, the first female president of Ethiopia.

Prior to the conference, the federal government also made several announcements for national and global women’s rights initiatives.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced the first investments from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy — a $2-billion investment that aims to double the number of women-led businesses in Canada by 2025.

In late May, a $5.3-million investment was made to four BC organizations to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

On Sunday, Maryam Monsef — Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality — pledged $30 million for three women’s organizations. The matching partnerships were made with Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Grand Challenges Canada.

Through Global Affairs Canada, another $300 million investment will go towards an Equity Fund to create a “sustainable and predictable” source of funding for international women’s rights organizations and movements aimed specifically at developing countries.

The Women Deliver Conference takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre through June 6 and brings together a roster of global leaders and advocates for gender equality and women’s rights including, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Melinda Gates, and Tarana Burke.

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