Canada hosts first meeting of women foreign ministers

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Women foreign ministers from around the world kicked off a first-of-its-kind meeting on Friday, bringing together more than half of the world’s top women diplomats in Montreal.

Women are “key to finding solutions to the political, economic and social challenges facing our societies,” Canada’s top diplomat Chrystia Freeland said Friday at the opening of the two-day summit.

The meeting will center on four topics: women in politics and positions of leadership; strengthening democracy; promoting peace and security and eliminating gender-based violence.

“I will always promote equal representation and respect for the rights of women and girls” Freeland said, because “when we are all involved in the decision-making process, our societies become stronger, our economies and our middle class become more prosperous and our countries safer.”

Freeland is co-chairing the meeting with EU foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini. At the opening session, both expressed hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a tradition of cooperation between women ministers.

In addition to Freeland and Mogherini, the conference brings together ministers from 17 other countries: Andorra, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia, Norway, Panama, South Africa, Rwanda, Saint Lucia and Sweden.