By: Habiba Cooper Diallo
TORONTO, Last week, I was excited to attend the 2018 Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. The two day event took place in Toronto at the Fairmont Royal York hotel. The forum is an annual conference held in cities around the world, which aims to highlight women’s voices and opinions on key economic, social, and political issues. This year’s theme was Bridging the gap: A call to the G7 for inclusive progress. I would like to thank the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women for supporting my participation in the forum.
The agenda was jampacked with seminars, roundtables, and plenaries involving female leaders and activists in sectors ranging from business and government to academia. I was honoured to meet Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from Chad who is an internationally-acclaimed climate change activist working to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change on Mbororo Fulani communities living in the Sahel. Ongoing drought, the rapid decline of Lake Chad, and conflict, along with other factors, have caused the Mbororo to become embroiled in disputes over food, water and grazing land. Many now find themselves internally displaced and living in refugee camps.
I also took away important insights after attending a joint session with the New York Times titled, “The media gaze: The under-representation of women in the news.” Ana Maria Salazar, renowned Mexican broadcaster and national security expert, addressed the need for female news reporters to opine as opposed to just read the news. She also remarked that female broadcasters are less likely to report on issues of economy, health, military and national security in comparison to their male counterparts. In her words, “You may have women on TV but they're only reading the news… we need to move further. We need to have women opining on some of the most important issues that affect a country.”
The forum drew participation from over 700 delegates representing countries around the world. Going forward, I would like to see more participation from women leaders of Canada’s black population, in addition to a focus on maternal health.
Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am a Canadian fistula advocate and blogger, and the founder of the Women’s Health Organization International, WHOI. I have been doing fistula awareness-building in Canada for the past 10 years. My work on fistula has led me to Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. I have been featured in Forbes, the HuffPost, and UNFPA