Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 10

Thursday, May 4, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


Congratulations to Carolyn McAskie on Receiving Seventh Annual Award

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, last week, on April 26, I had the honour of presiding over the seventh Annual UNIFEM Canada award gala ceremony and dinner. I was very pleased with the success of the evening, which was attended by a great many people who came to support the efforts of UNIFEM in promoting the equality of women throughout the world.

It was also a great pleasure to pay tribute to the recipient of the annual UNIFEM Canada award, Carolyn McAskie.

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi, Ms. McAskie has been promoting women’s issues internationally for quite some time. While employed by the Canadian government, Ms. McAskie worked in the Commonwealth Secretariat, was Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, and was CIDA Vice-president for Africa. She led the charge to have women’s issues taken seriously, established the Women in Development Division in the Commonwealth Secretariat, and was one of the senior Canadian negotiators at the 1985 Women’s Conference in Nairobi.

Since joining the United Nations, Ms. McAskie has worked relentlessly to give women a voice and to promote their access to all levels.

She broadens horizons for women. She gives them the opportunity to be heard and to gain precious experience, which they in turn can use to help others. UNIFEM chose to pay tribute to Ms. McAskie especially for her work in advancing gender equality in three areas: the international scene, the economic arena, and the promotion of peace and security.

Ms. McAskie talked about experiences she had during her career in which she worked to further empower women and increase gender equality and fought against the inequalities that continue to exist between men and women and the fact that women are inevitably on the losing side.

She also spoke about the challenges of involving women in the peace process in Burundi. Progress has been made. The new Constitution of Burundi reserves 30 per cent of the seats in the legislative assembly for women. As part of the UN mission, Ms. McAskie made various innovations such as creating a team to actively promote gender equality and creating an ethics officer position with responsibility for preventing sexual exploitation. When she left Burundi, no cases of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers had been reported.

I would also like to personally congratulate Sue McGarvie and the board of UNIFEM Canada for the amazing job they have done in the past year to promote women’s equality on the international scene. Their efforts to raise awareness of UNIFEM in Canada and their activities are incredible, and I know that they will continue.