Joly to raise abortion, sexual violence in closing UN speech

As the United Nations General Assembly comes to a close, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is urging countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence.

In a speech today in New York, Joly will summarize Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations.

They include being part of “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “defend against the growing attacks on women’s rights and freedoms,” according to Joly’s draft remarks in French.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries,” her speech says.

“Canada will always stand up for your right to choose.”

Though the draft section on women’s rights does not mention the United States, Joly’s comments come after months of backlash to the US Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to ban abortions. Some jurisdictions are seeking to prosecute those who help women end their pregnancies.

Joly’s remarks instead mention women targeted by autocratic governments; she cites the Taliban’s efforts to prevent Afghan girls from attending school. She calls out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.

The speech cites Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability for the death of Mahsa Amini. She died in custody after morality police arrested her for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Joly also notes Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence by occupying Russian forces.

Joly argues deliberate policy choices are resulting in rising violence against women, who are excluded from “the negotiating table, the boardroom, the classroom.”

The speech is likely to take place around noon local time, and will include some of the themes raised last week in New York by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His remarks focused on climate change and international development.

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