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Advocates hoped for more concrete G7 gender equality commitments



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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to make gender equality a key focus of the G7 summit, but some women’s rights advocates are lamenting a shortage of concrete commitments to action.

The final communique of the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., included promises to work toward removing barriers for women in social, economic and political spheres and resolutions to end sexual and gender-based violence.

The summit also produced a commitment of $3.8 billion for girls’ education — a fund the U.S. did not agree to participate in.

Beyond the money, no other concrete actions to advance gender equality materialized — an outcome many women’s advocacy groups that participated in the so-called W7 summit in April pushed hard to avoid.

Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada’s manager of policy, said while she’s glad to see strong language in support of gender equality in the communique and leadership from Canada in putting gender issues on the agenda for discussion, her organization would have liked a much broader range of commitments from G7 leaders.

“The communique is full of lots of nice words, but it doesn’t really come with very concrete actions that the G7 is going to do to address some of these gender equality issues,” Sarosi said.

“I think it would have been good to be a bit more responsive to the recommendations of the gender equality advisory council in terms of addressing some of the neglected areas that form part of really moving the needle on gender equality.”

The G7 gender equality advisory council, made up of business and social leaders, including billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, released a comprehensive list of 60 recommendations for the G7. The recommendations detailed numerous actions and investments that would help advance the rights and opportunities of women, girls and LGBTQ citizens around the world.

Katja Iversen was a member of the advisory council and is the president and CEO of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization for investment in gender equality with a specific focus on maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights.

She said she does not believe tensions between world leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump on trade distracted from the discussions on gender equality at the summit.

The leaders who took part in a breakfast session on gender equality at the summit were engaged in the conversations, which Iversen characterized as frank.

“Being in that room with the leaders that breakfast morning, I can tell you it was a very comprehensive presentation that they got, and they went in and discussed it,” she said.

“We did not mince words and we did not leave out any of the so-called controversial issues.”

The fact that two hours were set aside to talk about advancing gender equality at a meeting for world leaders shows the gender conversations did not get lost in the shuffle, Iversen added.

“There can always be more … but for me the most important thing was the time they spent on this and how much they engaged in this in the conversation.”

But while there are indications there could be further support for gender equality being on the agenda of next year’s G7 summit in France, the focus for women’s rights advocates will now turn toward the actions that individual countries will take to make improvements, rather than words they agree to in joint communiques.

Many are also hoping the Women Deliver conference, which Canada will host in Vancouver in 2019, will offer some more concrete next steps and solutions for advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls.

“I think it’s really within the countries and the women’s rights organizations that are working tirelessly within the countries to move things ahead,” Sarosi said. 

“They will be the ones really making the difference.”

— Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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Woman and her dog lost for 72 hours in B.C. woods are found safe



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INVERMERE, B.C. — A 52-year-old woman and her dog are both safe and unharmed after wandering lost for 72 hours in the thick woods in southeastern B.C.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Newel says Louise Baxter hopped off a rescue helicopter Wednesday, hugged her husband and was talking and laughing with her rescuers.

Baxter went out for a hike with friends in the Jumbo Pass area on Sunday, but she disappeared after taking her leashed dog out for what she said would be a short walk.

Newel says Baxter appears to have become disoriented shortly after leaving her friends and then heading down the mountain, moving “west when she probably should have been heading east.”

The dog, a golden poodle named Maverick, was with her the whole time and Newel says the animal is also in good health. 

At the height of the search, there were three helicopters, four search dogs, a drone and 35 search and rescue volunteers looking for the woman in the difficult, mountainous terrain.

Newel, who was the incident commander for the search, said Baxter saw the search helicopters and tried to flag them down, but no one saw her.

“But if anybody’s every been in a helicopter, trying spot a person in forested area is extremely difficult and a lot harder than you would think,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “I can’t imagine the emotion that would have gone through her seeing these helicopters and not be able to signal them in some sort of way.”

Baxter is an avid hiker, Newel said, adding the general rule of thumb for those who get lost in the woods is to stay put. Baxter did stay in one place for a while but proceeded down the mountain because she thought help wasn’t coming, he said.

“But she was working further and further out from the primary search area.”

He said she found water along the way and ate berries, but didn’t have anything else to eat.

“I couldn’t believe when she walked off that helicopter and practically ran to her husband,” Newel added.


The Canadian Press

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Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May



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VICTORIA — The Green party will not run a candidate against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the riding of Burnaby South.

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the House of Commons in an unopposed byelection.

She says in a statement the Greens believe it is right to step aside to allow the leader of “an important part of the political spectrum” to serve in Parliament.

Singh announced his candidacy for the federal riding after New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart indicated he was stepping aside to run for mayor of Vancouver.

The Liberal and Conservative parties have not announced candidates in the riding, but the Liberals have said they will contest the byelection.

May received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova. She extended the same gesture to Dion.

In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a byelection held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.

No date has been set for a byelection.

Singh sat in Ontario’s legislature and served as the provincial NDP’s deputy leader before he replaced Tom Mulcair as the federal leader.

The Canadian Press

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