Moving the needle to empower women
"It is well established that if the full contribution of women to economies and societies is not realized, then countries around the globe won’t reach their full potential.
On what is the vision for the future: the answer is that we need everyone, women and men to work towards enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
Because the evidence shows that all of society benefits when women and girls reach their potential and contribute to their fullest.
This is not an easy objective, it will take time and effort at every level to “move the needle”. Both Canada and India are working in this direction and we can learn from each other, with our eyes firmly fixed on a better, fairer, more sustainable future.
I feel privileged to work in India at a special time in Canada-India relations, with the goodwill between our countries enabling major growth in bilateral trade, investment and people to people linkages.
Over the past five years, two-way trade has increased more than 60% to $9.4 billion; Canadian companies active in India have increased by 50% to 1,000 or more, and the number of students from India choosing to study in Canada has grown from less than 50,000 a few years ago to almost 200,000 this year.
And of course, Canada is home to a vibrant Indian diaspora, with approximately 1.4 million Canadians of Indian heritage. The Indo-Canadian community makes major contributions to Canadian society in a range of areas.
In my role as the Canadian Consul General covering South India, I regularly meet people in all spheres to advance Canada-India relations. I regularly meet Indian women who are making a difference, including in business, government, media, arts & culture, sport and civil society, to name a few.
And I continue to advocate for women, from supporting community projects to benefit women, including supports for rural women entrepreneurs, and initiatives aimed at keeping girls in school, to enabling the participation of more women in arts festivals, to in my own office ensuring women have an equal say in hiring and promotion decisions because this is one of the keys to opening more doors for women seeking opportunities.
We all of us have a role to play in empowering women and girls in fulfilling their potential, including those of us who are parents who can support daughters to reach their potential as much as sons.
There are many positive examples in India that can help inspire us to more positive action, from those who raise their voices constructively against barriers women face, to those undertaking impactful projects, to the creative initiatives like this one that carve out space and opportunities.
One of those positive examples I’d like to share is in empowering women through the arts. I have enjoyed art exhibits around the globe in the last 30 years. But it was here in South India last April, that for the first time, I attended an inclusive international art show where it was wonderful to see that half the artists were women. And today’s festival continues to move the needle for women.
I would like to wrap up with one of the initiatives I am working on, for which I am looking for partners. I am looking to develop a mentoring event for female students, to help in their development, as such an opportunity helped me early in my career. If you know any working women who may be willing to share their experience with a student for a day, I would really like to hear from you !"
-Excerpts from the keynote address by Consul General Nicole Girard
at the 2nd edition of the Under The Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival
Bangalore International Centre, November 2, 2019 on the subject of 'empowering women'.
View Nicole Girard's impactful speech on 'women empowering women'