The divisive discourse and the violence that has been inflicted on marginalized people throughout the world, particularly women, cast a pall on all of 2016. While this has been a turbulent year globally, and powerful political changes forecast great uncertainty, I believe the values of justice, respect, and solidarity will ultimately prevail.
In fact, my first year with Crossroads has filled me with hope. As list making tends to be a popular feature of new year messages, here are my five reasons to be optimistic for 2017:
1. “The world needs more Canada”.
From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recognition that “poverty is sexist” to Global Affairs Canada identifying poverty and gender equality as key priorities, our country is making important contributions on the international stage. While we can be doing more abroad and at home, Canada is at least heading in the right direction.
2. Some global wrongs are being righted
The world finally took note when the reports of sexual abuse perpetrated on women and children by some United Nations peacekeepers in Africa in 2015 came to light earlier this year. With leadership and pressure from civil society the UN ultimately took responsibility and committed to action. The UN can and must be a model for individual states’ conduct in treatment of women.
3. Our work is contributing to positive change for women and girls
Crossroads continues to see positive and hopeful results from its involvement with girls’ empowerment programs in Swaziland, Ghana and Togo. More abuse cases are being reported, girls are staying in school, and there has been a marked reduction in teen pregnancies, a major barrier to education.
4. We are creating new collaborations
Creativity and collaboration are so important to successful development projects and we at Crossroads are grateful to all of our private and non-profit sector partners. This year we are building on our private sector partnerships with Green Beaver and Papillion MDC and UNFSC in Senegal to improve productive capacity and leadership of women producers. I am also excited by two recent initiatives to support women and girls who are victims of abuse and to end the cycle of violence through innovative collaborations with Ernestine’s, Women’s Shelter in Toronto and The John Howard Society.
5. You inspire me
Volunteer cooperation continues to be the basis for our work, and we could not do this work without so many global citizens committed to justice and peace. I am filled with joy by the number of people willing to share their time, their passion, and their ideas to make the world a better place.
On a personal note, this year at Crossroads has been an incredible journey and I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization. I would be remiss not to mention Karen Takacs, whose pursuit of equality for women and girls is reflected in so much of our work. Among the many points of light over the past year was the launch of the Karen Takacs Women and Leadership Fund which is providing direct support to organizations advancing equality for women and girls and emerging women leaders.
On behalf of the team at Crossroads, best wishes for a hopeful 2017.