Following the official launch of HeForShe on September 20th, 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York City, UN Women National Committee Canada (UNWNCC) kicked-off Canada’s engagement in the global solidarity movement for gender equality on November 5th in Toronto, Ontario.
“We received an overwhelming outpouring of positive feedback and support during the event and after the event—from media, dignitaries, attendees and those who could not attend the sold out venue,” said UNWNCC President Almas Jiwani. “This is just the first of our actions in advancing the HeForShe campaign across Canada. As it stands, Canada is lagging behind the US and the UK in terms of men and boys taking up the HeForShe committement. And I want to personally see Canada in the country lead. So we will be reaching out to community and corporate partners and stakeholders alike. Our call to action is for men and boys of all levels of Canadian society—political leaders and students—please step forward and bring the ethos of HeForShe to your spheres of influence.”
Among the array of media and approximately 300 attendees, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor-elect John Tory opened the event with resounding speeches of commitment to the campaign.
“HeForShe joins a movement Canada has been leading for decades. But even in Canada, we still have a long way to go. By mobilizing more men and boys, HeForShe can help us move forward,” said Premier Wynne. “As Ontario’s first female Premier, I am honoured to be a role model for young women. But the fact that women still need role models to see that they can reach the top means we have a long way to go. Young people growing up in Canada can see a path to their potential with fewer and fewer barriers. But it takes the work of HeForShe, and constant vigilance on all our parts to truly reach and maintain a discrimination-free society.”
Major-elect Tory showed his support by encouraging all men to sign up as proponents of HeForShe, “As a man, and mayor soon-to-be, I am proud to lend my name and my voice to the cause… and I urge other men and boys to come forward and actively support global gender equality.”
“For too long gender inequality has been defined as a women’s issue. This myth ends with HeForShe. It is imperative that we call upon men as our partners and our equals in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality. Both men and women experience positive change when women are empowered; economies are stronger, health rates improve, and society becomes more equal. “ Stated Almas Jiwani President of UNWNCC. “I call on the men and boys of Canada to speak up, stand up, and take action for the rights of women, and human rights, through the HeForShe campaign. It is important for Canada to show strong support for women and girls and the fight for their rights globally.”
The Canada HeForShe launch event was co-hosted by the X-Project, the first of many events to come, UNWNCC will look to furthering the HeForShe initiative by engaging and mobilizing Canadian men and boys in boardrooms, classrooms, at home and on the streets to be champions in addressing violence against women and redefining masculine role models. Stay tuned.