Next week, the countries of the world will meet at the United Nations for the Commission on the Status of Women – an annual event to discuss progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s theme is “women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.”

At the end of the meeting, the UN releases conclusions that all countries have agreed to. We’ve seen a draft.

The draft is pretty good. The conclusions importantly recognize that there are significant barriers to women’s economic empowerment in “conflict and post-conflict, refugee, and humanitarian settings.” We have seen this first hand in our work. Displacement, violence, hunger, economic crisis, and countless other factors in the places we work do create challenges for our programs and make it harder for women to participate in the economy. We hope that this conclusion leads the countries of the world to commit additional resources for women’s economic empowerment programming in conflict-affected regions.

That said, the draft could be better. What the draft conclusions do not mention is the incredible contributions that women’s participation in the economy can make to peace. We have seen this first hand too. When a woman has the skills and tools to earn a living, she also has the power to both provide a safe home for her children and help her community grow towards economic stability. Sure, women face huge challenges during conflict, and that’s important to recognise, but women are also drivers of peace. This is why women’s economic empowerment is a cornerstone of our work.

This International Women’s Day, stand with War Child Canada as we continue to respect and celebrate the vital role women that women play in breaking the cycle of violence and creating an environment in which children can thrive.

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