Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner June 7, 2018
Our 19-member GEAC received a last-minute but nonetheless exciting invitation from the Prime Minister’s office on May 13. We had been working pretty hard, thinking deeply about the status of girls and women worldwide in our fragile world, and researching the data (there is not enough of it, disaggregated by gender) and responding to many policy papers which are being prepared for the G7 leaders to sign during their two-day meeting in Charlevoix PQ, June 7-9, 2018.
Assisted by some very competent civil servants at Global Affairs Canada, (talking to you, Nell Stewart and you, Sherry Hornung and you, Suzanne Cooper), we had edited our bold ideas into a powerful 48 pages. Around 16,000 words.
I can only guess that our work has been valued and has had an impact, because we are invited to come to Quebec City on June 7 and meet with the G7 leaders at breakfast on June 9.
I have to pinch myself.
What do I say to British Prime Minister Theresa May, over croissants? Can I comment on Brexit? Can I get to tell France’s President how delighted I was to see the Mali man, Mamadou Gassama, scramble like Spiderman up a four-story apartment block in Paris and rescue a four-year-old toddler hanging off a balcony? Quick off the mark, President Macron had him in to chat and presented him with French citizenship. Can I express to Chancellor Angela Merkel my gratitude for her long, enlightened leadership in Germany? She, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has a doctorate in chemistry.
I do wish I spoke more than one-and a half languages.
And then there is the President of the United States of America. There is no certainty he will come to the G7, but if he does and if he comes to breakfast, and if he has a moment for me, what, dear readers, do I do or say?
Is what I am rehearsing OK?
“Welcome to my country, Mr President. I have not been able to agree with a single thing you have done or said since taking office. But I know you have the power to do immense good."
If he makes a beeline for Melinda Gates or Christine Lagarde of the IMF, or Malala Yousafzai, I’ll try to eavesdrop, Kawartha-style, and let you know.
If even for a minute I should doubt the importance of this work for us all, I am reminded every day. Today in the bank lineup, I spoke to a woman whose daughter, abused by her boyfriend, has fled back home, broken and confused. On the weekend I spoke with Toronto women starting a civil society organization called HART, to provide succor and support to young women being trafficked into Canada for coercive sex.
When one sees that Toronto van careening down Yonge Street sidewalks, killing eight women and two men, and learns its driver was a man linked to on-line groups preaching hatred of women, one knows the struggle must continue.
How long will it take for humanity to banish misogyny?
Our Council is demanding conditions in which girls and women are safe, educated, healthy and heard, that’s all.
Thirteen years ago, leaders of the advanced nations delivered a bold promise to “make poverty history.” The goal hasn’t been fully achieved by any means, but life for the world’s poorest people has improved by almost every measure.
I dared to suggest to the Council, half- playfully, that we print T shirts with the slogan “Make Misogyny History” for the G7. To my delight the idea was endorsed by one of Britain’s brightest scholars, Professor Diane Elson.
It was a rueful suggestion, not really G7-style.
For 22 years, my basic feminist manifesto has been the final statement of the Beijing Women’s Conference, the “Platform for Action.” Now this G7 declaration from our Council updates and makes more relevant, powerful and do-able the policies to deliver progress for all.
Over to you, G7!
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