UN Women Executive Director to make first official visit to Canada


Visiting three cities on a packed three-day mission from 6-8 June, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will meet with key government officials, civil society, the private sector, students and media and take part in a series of events aimed at driving home the need to achieve gender equality in developed and developing countries alike.

This first official visit to Canada comes on the heels of a gender equality discussion with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a side event held during the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March, when the self-declared feminist leader joined UN Women’s HeForShe initiative and said: “This is the way the world needs to go and this is the way we’re going make it go—together.”

Canada’s new Prime Minister appointed a gender-balanced Cabinet last year, “because it’s 2015” and empowerment of women and girls and the protection and promotion of their rights through advancing gender equality will be at the heart of Canada’s international assistance. Canada is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council and has been elected to the Commission on the Status of Women for the term 2017-2021. To build on the Canadian Government’s clear commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, UN Women will seek to strengthen its partnership with Canada.

The Executive Director’s mission will begin in Ottawa on 6 June, where she will take part in high-level meetings at the federal Ministry for Global Affairs, including with Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Karina Gould. She will have a working lunch with other ministers and senior officials, engage in a consultation on the High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment, for which UN Women serves as the Secretariat, and take active part in technical discussion on women, peace and security, HeForShe and Agenda 2030. Emphasizing the importance of UN Women’s media partnerships, she will also conduct a roundtable interview with local community radio producers.

On 7 June, she heads to Toronto, where she will speak at a Global Compact breakfast before taking part in a panel discussion on women’s economic leadership with the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne. Later on, she will take part in a Women Leaders Forum, a private civil society event hosted by G(irls)20 and the Canadian Women’s Foundation; followed by a lunch with private sector and corporate leaders. She will also meet with the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and former head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

Along with UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri, who is part of the UN Women delegation to Canada, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will also attend the “Youth Dialogue: Connecting Generations in Achieving Gender Equality for a Planet 5050 by 2030”, a public event at the University of Toronto hosted by @UNWOMEN4Youth, the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality and other partners. Watch the livestream here.

To cap off the mission, the Executive Director will visit Waterloo on 8 June and meet with students in at the University of Waterloo, many of whom are pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. The President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Waterloo, Feridun Hamdullahpur, is one of HeforShe’s 10X10X10 Impact Champions and has instituted scholarships for women students to pursue STEM courses as part of the efforts.