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MP Bibeau speaks to students

Stating that poverty is sexist, federal minister and Compton-Stanstead MP Marie-Claude Bibeau told students and teachers Wednesday that Canada is working internationally to empower women to better their lives and those of their children and communities.

Visiting the school during the International Day of the Girl, Mme Bibeau spoke at assembly and outlined the many injustices faced by women and girls in developing country, from child marriages and genital mutilation to lack of power or even a voice in their villages.

"The gender-based violence in these countries, we cannot imagine how hard it is," said Mme Bibeau, who is Minister for International Development and La Francophonie.

Besides offering medical and judicial support, Canada provides what it is perhaps best known for: technical training. This ranges from economic and agricultural training to training for local police. In this way, Canada is working at both the grass roots and at the local government level to give women a voice.

"When we economically empower women, they are more likely to protect their families and commit to providing education for their children," she said. Canada is well respected, she noted, because it does not have a history of colonialism.

She added that hope is a tremendous commodity in developing countries, because wiithout hope, young people are more likely to join armed conflicts that threaten security and the development of democracies.

Following her talk, Mme Bibeau took questions and posed for photos with the Stanstead girls in attendance.

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