Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to pursue a question I asked on a very memorable day, which was April 12 this spring. We were gathered here just hours after this place was electrified by the inspiring speech of Malala Yousafzai. She was extraordinary. I think we all remember her ability, her adept touch at humour, her compelling life story, and her challenge to Canada: to help, and make a priority, in the education of women and girls.
In question period that day, I asked the Prime Minister a question, and used the challenge that Malala Yousafzai had put to us. We will recall that her address laid out very clearly the case, the absolutely rock solid case, that educating women and girls was the best investment one could make in peace and security, and bettering the whole world.
As she said, “Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries and our world.” However, she went on, “But around the world, 130 million girls are out of school today.” Her challenge to the Prime Minister, was “Dear Canada, I am asking you to lead once again”. She had very specific questions. Would the Prime Minister:
...make girls' education a central theme of your G7 Presidency next year...use your influence to help fill the global education funding gap...Host the upcoming replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education...prioritize 12 years of school for refugees.
The Prime Minister's answer was entirely positive, but as in the case with many answers in question period, it lacked specificity. Clearly, the Prime Minister spoke of the enormous honour of welcoming Malala Yousafzai. He agreed that we needed to do more. He agreed that in Canada's G7 presidency, which will begin next year, there would be a strong emphasis on gender equality and opportunity for women and girls.
However, since that time, unfortunately the world has fallen short. There have been a number of disturbing developments. Again, one of these things still lies in the future, which is the G7 presidency for Canada.
The G7 meeting just months later, in June of this year, in Italy, was extremely disappointing. A much-anticipated report on education was shelved. Malala Yousafzai and her supporters, the Malala Fund, within 48 hours, generated more than 27,000 allies and individuals who mobilized in 134 countries, demanding the report be released. It was not.
Meanwhile, funding for the education of women and girls has dropped, particularly large funders. The United States and the United Kingdom, particularly, have reduced their funding. There is now less funding to meet this critical sustainable development goal for education than there was just a year ago. Another thing that was very specific in the challenge was whether Canada would step up to host the global replenishment, but, no, Senegal and France stepped up.
This is not a failure. This is not a broken promise, not yet. However, I ask the government, I ask the Prime Minister, and I ask the parliamentary secretary this. Will Canada step up and deliver on the promises we made to Malala Yousafzai?