Global Leaders and the G7: Canada’s Global Moment
“Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment will be a part of every ministerial meeting, it will be part of the broader G7 agenda, and it will be considered every step of the way as we plan out all of our events.”
– Justin Trudeau (December 14, 2017)
The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s advanced economies consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The forum offers an opportunity for G7 Leaders, Ministers and policy makers to come together each year to build consensus and set trends around some of today’s most challenging global issues. With the Canadian-hosted G7 around the corner (June 8-9), May is the perfect month to address Canada’s global leadership and to advocate on global health and education. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made many promises and it is time we hold him accountable to represent Canada during this global moment.
This month, our National Conference (May 5-7) will be focusing on the latest developments in politics and global health challenges. Participants of the National Conference will participate in our Advocacy Day where they will meet with Members of Parliament to discuss upcoming opportunities for Canadian global leadership on poverty eradication. We encourage all individuals who were unable to attend our Conference to continue the dialog in their communities about three key issues:
- Promoting the “Educating Girls in Crisis Declaration” that encourages the G7 to build more effective support for girls in crisis situations to get a quality education;
- Push Canada to ensure that global health is a priority on the agenda at the G7 Summit; and
- Ensure head-of-state representation and strong commitments at the High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (TB).
Declaration to Educate Girls in Crises
In 2015 alone, nearly 50 million children were uprooted from their homes. At present, 62 million children and youth are out of school in 32 crisis-affected countries. Children and adolescents are spending their entire lives displaced, without a path to a positive future. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Education, has pointed out that displaced children, without access to education, are more likely to become “the youngest labourers in the factory, the youngest brides at the altar, and the youngest soldiers in the trench.” In these vulnerable contexts, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys. Gender inequality and the denial of girls’ right to education carry serious social and economic costs for girls themselves, their communities and nations.
As the first national leader to also be Minister of Youth, Prime Minister Trudeau can lead the G7 in reframing the discussion through the lens of opportunity, to unlock the untapped potential of youth and speak directly to the crucial role that young people play in the future of prosperity and inclusion. Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history. Surging populations of young people have the power to drive political agendas, influence what modes of governance will be adopted or rejected, shape the role women will play in society, address some of our most pressing global challenges, and embrace or discredit extremist ideologies.
Within the coming youth surge, we know that girls and young women, particularly those living in fragile contexts, are the most excluded and vulnerable people on the planet. By unlocking the potential of adolescent girls, we can unleash the power of a generation.
A G7 Declaration would bring unified political attention and action to a largely neglected issue. Canadian leadership on this Declaration would:
- Prioritize education and ensure that education services are resumed and sustained as soon as a crisis hits, throughout rehabilitation and long-term sustainable development.
- Catalyze critical bilateral and multilateral funding needed to deliver education to all children, including girls, in crises. This will help to ensure all children can access, quality, safe, life-long learning opportunities.
- We are asking G7 countries to pledge $1.3 Billion over three years to the declaration which each year will put 3.7 million more children in school. By making a strong funding commitment to the declaration Canada can pave the way for other countries to do the same.
G7: Making Health a G7 Priority
Over the past several years, a Health Ministers Meeting has been a part of the G7 presidencies. Global health leadership is an important part of the G7 work—it was during the G8 Summit in 2010 that the Muskoka agreement was signed. This year, the G7 is being hosted in Canada and the Canadian Government will not be hosting a G7 Health Ministers meeting. In lieu of a separate ministerial meeting, Canada must ensure that health is not only a priority across its five key themes but must also address it at the leadership level during the G7 Summit. Recognized as a human right and under goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), equitable access to health is pivotal in achieving gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment. This aligns with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (released in June 2017). This is not only an opportunity for Canada to show leadership in global health, but if the G7 does not properly prioritize global health they risk slipping backwards on essential gains made across the world, including in fighting epidemics, responding to health security concerns and creating a more equitable and sustainable world.
Tuberculosis and the High-Level Meeting
Canada recently announced its commitment to end TB in the Inuit regions of Canada by 2030. This is a very exciting announcement in our Canadian fight against TB and is just the kind of leadership we need on the global stage. TB is the world’s leading infectious killer, claiming 1.7 million lives every year. Our global progress to fight the disease is off-track and requires serious and dedicated global political leadership. In September 2018, the United Nations (UN) will hold a high-level meeting on TB. The UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB is a crucial opportunity to bolster and align world leaders’ commitments to tackling TB. The G7 presents an excellent opportunity for us to push for this kind of leadership. Our Prime Minister should take the lead and announce his attendance at the HLM on TB in September during the G7, and encourage other heads of state to do the same.
 The Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health was a funding initiative announced at the G8 Summit (currently known as the G7) in Toronto, Canada, committing member nations to collectively spend an additional $5 billion from 2010-2015.