The Global Commons took place on March 7, 2019 on the topic of Building Better Societies: Gender Equality Matters.

The 2018-2019 Hart House Global Commons connected students in Canada with others in Colombia, the United States, South Africa, and France to explore questions and actions geared towards building better societies that reflect, uphold, and institutionalize the full equality of women. Participants were joined in all locations for an exciting real-time discussion inquiring into UN SDG #5, and its meaning, relevance, and areas for improvement.

You’re obviously a very busy person. Why did you agree to take the time to participate in the Hart House Global Commons? 

The reason I took it is I think the connection with the students, both in Canada and overseas, has always excited me. Generally, I do those sessions for sharing what we are doing from the NGO side of the world, overseas and in various sessions and meetings. I’ve done one in Hart House some time ago, maybe three or four years ago. So I always enjoy interacting with students and learning from them. It’s a two-way street.

What are some of your key learnings about gender equality?

Gender is our main focus and we have programming of wide ranges, but for this event, I wanted to talk more about sexual reproductive health and rights, how we work on it and what are the gender issues in it. And when I say “gender,” it’s both males and females, because often in reproductive health it’s more the male engagement that is also lacking. So overall gender issues on sexual reproductive health and rights. I also wanted to bring attention to early forced marriage. It’s a huge global issue and girls as young as 10 or 12 are married off. In some countries they have a huge, high prevalence, so talking about that, and connecting the lens of education on both the topics because education is a key in preventing early marriage. Girls who stay in school are less likely to be married.

Likewise the awareness of the sexual reproductive health and rights, either in school or informal education, has been an extremely powerful way of helping with both these topics.

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