On February 29th, the Coady International Institute and Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) celebrated the leadership of women worldwide, hosting a forum titled Women Leading Change – Perspectives from Canada and the World.
The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, was an honoured guest at the event.
“Now is the time for practical, effective action,” Minister Oda said in her remarks. “There is no one solution, there is no cookie-cutter approach, and we have to make sure we look at the situation for the women in each country, in each region, and in each village.”
The event welcomed the Coady Global Change Leaders, a group of 16 women from around the world. They have been selected for a 20-week leadership program at the Coady International Institute, in support of their demonstrated commitment to bringing positive change to their communities.
More than 230 guests were in attendance for the featured panel discussion, moderated by acclaimed journalist, author, and filmmaker Sally Armstrong.
“We’re at a tipping point when it comes to women’s issues around the world, and I’ve never been more encouraged,” said Ms. Armstrong, the author of multiple books on women in the developing world.
“The bold and unprecedented demands for change made by women are being heralded by the powers-that-be as the end game in intractable files like poverty, conflict and violence,” she added. “What we are witnessing is the dawning of a new revolution.”
Ms. Armstrong was joined for the discussion panel by Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Linda Jones, Manager of the International Centre for Women’s Leadership at the Coady Institute, and two Coady Global Change Leaders: Josephine Ndambuki of Kenya and Shruti Upadhyay of India.
The panel addressed questions of culture, cooperation between men and women, aid effectiveness, developing women’s confidence, and the role Canadian women can play in promoting global development.
In her closing remarks, Minister Oda spoke to the importance of partnering with communities to chart long-term, sustainable paths to development.
“We have to have our eyes and our ears and our minds open. [Women] have the solutions, they just need the tools,” she said. “So if we pick the right tools, and we pick the right partners, and we pick the right leaders, we can act and we can make a difference.”