The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau is heading to Africa next week, his first visit to the continent since the Liberal government came to power last year.
According to the Globe and Mail Online, the trip will include a visit to Antanarivo, Madagascar, for the summit of la Francophonie, a global organization of French-speaking nations that chose former Governor General Michaelle Jean to be its first female secretary general in 2014.
There, Canada is advancing a resolution on the fight against early and forced marriages, part of a broader emphasis the Liberal government is putting on gender equality as part of its international development agenda.
Ontario, the province with the largest French-speaking population outside Quebec, has put in a bid to gain observer status at la Francophonie, an effort the federal government is supporting but the previous Conservative government refused to do.
That would give Canada – its second-largest contributor – four seats at the table. Quebec and New Brunswick have been full-fledged members of la Francophonie since the 1970s.
The trip to Africa will begin with a stop in Monrovia, Liberia, a West African country that was hit hard by the Ebola virus epidemic in recent years. Trudeau will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other advocates for gender equality to discuss the role that women play in securing and maintaining peace following civil conflict.