March 8, 2012
In my travels to developing countries, I personally witnessed how invaluable rural women are to their communities. Women not only grow the crops, they also generate income for the family, care for the children, and perform the majority of domestic chores.
It often does not take much to make a difference in a single woman's life, but the effects are long lasting. Improved access to education, credit, and basic health services can improve her life, but also the lives of her family and the entire community.
As the Minister for International Cooperation, I made sure that women and girls benefit from all our work. We help small-scale female farmers because we know that they produce the majority of the world's food. We support the education of women and girls because we know that they will ensure the education of their children. We empower women to start or expand businesses with microfinancing and loans because we know that they are fundamental to economic growth.
On this International Women's Day, Canadians can be proud of Canada's efforts to empower women in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty and break down the barriers preventing equality.
The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of International Cooperation