Just a brief observation from the G8 sessions today on food security and child and maternal health. CIDA minister Bev Oda and her colleagues were kind enough to include me in many of the events today – something that provided me a ringside seat. It was only as the morning session was underway that I noticed the makeup of the large conference table seating all the development ministers from the G8 countries. Every single one was male. Except for Canada, that is. It was striking to witness Bev Oda and CIDA president Margaret Biggs seated at the head of the table and ably leading the discussions dominated by men.
All this reminded me once again what a special place CIDA has held in the world community in terms of gender programming and equality. In fact, I sat with the CIDA contingent for the morning session and was the only male – something I found heartening. Wherever CIDA goes in the future, its belief and practice of gender equality will remain one of its core strengths and a source of pride in all things Canadian. It was just odd for these two leading figures to be the only women present during a discussion on maternal health. Good on you CIDA.