I’m not sure that there is a political leader today amongst global donors who has exhibited more energy and devotion toward ending extreme poverty in the developing world than our own Prime Minister Trudeau. He’s come sprinting out of the starting gate from day one last fall.
Canada will be hosting the replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria this week, and co-hosting the Leaders Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis next week. And, just last month, he answered ONE’s call to recognize that Poverty is Sexist from his own Twitter account, publically challenging other world leaders to join him.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister himself will join Bono, Bill Gates, Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Danai Gurira at a ONE-hosted town hall meeting to discuss how extreme poverty is sexist toward girls and women, and how Canada can help stop it.
It is my sincere hope that he doesn’t stop the race now, that he’s only just getting started. Poverty hits women and girls in poorest countries hardest in every way — economically, socially, and physically. Investing in them is the key to ending the intergenerational cycle of extreme poverty and to the growth of entire economies.
There are three top ways in which Canada in particular can lead the way for smart investment in the poorest girls and women.
1. Invest in ending malnutrition, especially for women and children. Globally, malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of all child deaths and 1 in 5 maternal deaths. Canada could launch a global fund for nutrition that aligns with countries’ own strategies and directly connects pledges with results on the ground. An ambitious pledge that doubles Canada’s current nutrition funding would also encourage other donors to contribute.
2. Cement Canada’s leadership in global health by taking the lessons we all learned from the Ebola crisis and investing in strengthening healthcare systems in key African countries, particularly by increasing the female health workforce.
3. Make education a priority, especially for girls. 75 percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa enter primary school, and only a shocking 8 percent finish secondary school. Canada can pave the way for tomorrow’s female leaders by providing incentives for girls to complete secondary education, improving girl’s learning, promoting women’s and girls’ rights and leadership, and investing in data that specifically targets measuring girls’ learning outcomes.
This is a fantastic time to be a global anti-poverty activist in Canada, and I am looking forward to the Trudeau government making good on its early promises and once again building strong Canadian partnerships in the developing world.