This holiday season, I took a moment to catch my breath. My first six months as Executive Director has gone by in a heartbeat. I am so moved to be a part of such a dynamic organization.
And while I am aware some global developments can be dispiriting, from my vantage point here at Crossroads, I am filled with hope at the sheer potential of the change we can affect – and the time is now.
Yes, women continue to be affected by sexual violence at alarming rates, particularly in the Global South; women disproportionally suffer from poverty and weak access to justice; the impacts of climate change are becoming more and more clear where women are expected to bear much of the burden of international inaction; and throughout the world, women are marginalized in matters small and significant, in our society and economy.
And women like never before are doing something about it. A new generation of women leaders are rising. This year I saw it in young women like Lawyer and Crossroads International Day of the Girl keynote speaker Rebeca Gyumi, who successfully challenged the Tanzanian Law of Marriage Act which had allowed girls as young as 14 to be married, thus protecting their rights; to 16 year old Greta Thunberg, who is working to hold world political leaders accountable for their failure to address climate change; to Canadian teen Autumn Peltier, who addressed the United Nations in September to advocate for access to clear water. And I see it in our Crossroads volunteers — men and women — coming together with local partners in the Global South to share skills and expertise and to build a global movement for change.
Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy is a clarion call and Crossroads is ready to act. This year we will invest to empower girls, end female genital mutilation, build resilience with women farmers in the face of climate change and gain greater economic autonomy in the process. We will invest in women leaders and support their efforts to claim their rights.
With the support of the Government of Canada we will launch an ambitious new program for 2020, bringing volunteer cooperation to new countries. And I am so excited to welcome a new Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, appointed in December. Minister Gould knows our business. Having served previously as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development. She has also volunteered abroad and brings another strong feminist voice to the role. I am excited to work with Minister Gould as she leads the government’s action on ending gender inequality and poverty.
None of this will be achieved without the engagement of our volunteers and donors. In just six months in the job meeting many of you, I am astonished by what you have achieved, and I know we will achieve even more together in the year to come. Together we are building a movement for change that will make possible a new future of justice, leadership and economic autonomy for women and girls.
2020 is a new decade and a new era for boldness, partnership and the fulfillment of the rights of women and girls.