Hon. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch
Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

Investing in women and girls is a priority for both myself and our Prime Minister. I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to participate in this important campaign. As Canada’s Minister of Status of Women, I have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of women leaders, innovators, and trailblazers from across the country. These women are the role models for the younger generation. They are women we all can look up to and emulate in order to pursue paths to success and prosperity.

Champions and mentors

One of the key focuses of my mandate is to champion women and support the mentorship of young women and girls by those of us who are in a position to pass on meaningful knowledge, candid advice, and critical guidance. I was fortunate enough to have my late friend and colleague, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, act as my champion and help me achieve successes that otherwise wouldn’t have seemed likely, or possible, for a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon such as myself. The type of support I received from my champion and mentor is something that all young women should have the chance to experience.

The women you will hear from as part of this feature are passionate individuals who are dedicated to helping young women make the most of their skills, talents, and abilities so that they can succeed.

Leading economic growth

For our part, the Government of Canada is committed to helping women and girls overcome obstacles and become leaders and innovators in all areas of the Canadian economy and Canadian society — whether it’s on the shop floor, at the construction site, or in the corporate boardroom, we want women to achieve great heights. We know that our economy benefits immensely when women succeed. The numbers speak for themselves.

For example, only 16 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada are women-led, yet they employ 1.5 million Canadians and in 2011 they contributed more than $148 billion to our economy. We know that women in leadership roles tend to hire more women and that they invest more back into their communities.

“As the women in this feature will show you, when Canadian women succeed, all of Canada succeeds.”

Simply put, Canadian women punch above their weight. That is why it’s critical that we encourage and help more Canadian women enter the work force, pursue positions of leadership, and become the role models and mentors that so many young people need.

Everyone wins when women succeed

In this feature you will read about some truly inspirational women — Dr. Marla Shapiro, Hayley Wickenheiser, and Sheryl Sandberg, to name a few. Each one of them offers a unique perspective, gained from their own personal experiences, on what we as Canadians can do to help young women and girls realize their full potential and be the best that they can be.

I challenge every one of you to look at the young women and girls in your lives and ask yourselves what you can do to help foster their success.

How can you be their champion? As the women in this feature will show you, when Canadian women succeed, all of Canada succeeds.