Frequently Asked Questions  

Policy & New Approach

Why did Canada select gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as its primary focus for international assistance? Why these areas of action? What happens to the previous priorities?
  • As powerful agents of change, women and girls have the ability to transform their households, their societies, and their economies. Greater gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls can deliver strong economic growth; reduce chronic hunger; help cut down extreme poverty; lead to longer-lasting peace; benefit entire families; and help empower all those who face discrimination. Focusing on the full empowerment of women and girls is the most effective way for our international assistance to achieve greater impact.
  • Evidence shows that inclusive growth, development, and sustainable peace are not possible unless women and girls are valued and empowered. This means having control over their own lives and bodies, participating fully as decision-makers in their homes and societies, benefitting from economic opportunities.
  • The International Assistance Review consultations revealed strong support for a feminist international assistance approach that places gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of its approach. Canada believes that a feminist approach, one that advances gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, is the most effective way to reduce poverty and to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world. Our work will be strengthened by work in the following action areas: gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (core action area); human dignity (health and nutrition, education, humanitarian action); growth that works for everyone; environment and climate action; inclusive governance; and peace and security.
  • Canada’s new action areas build on our strengths, reflect what was heard during the consultations, and are informed by evidence.  They replace the existing framework.  
What does it mean to have a feminist approach? What difference will a feminist international assistance policy make?
  • Canada’s feminist approach means that we will place gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the centre of all our efforts. Based on the conviction that all people should enjoy the same fundamental human rights and be given the same opportunities to succeed, Canada will prioritize the investments, partnerships and advocacy efforts that have the greatest potential to close gender gaps, eliminate barriers to gender equality, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Concentrating Canada’s international assistance on the full empowerment of women and girls is the most effective way for our international assistance to achieve greater impact. Inclusive growth, development, and sustainable peace are not possible unless women and girls are valued and empowered. This means having control over their own lives and bodies, participating fully as decision-makers in their homes and societies, and equally contributing to and benefitting from economic opportunities.
  • Agenda 2030 challenges the global community to once and for all put an end to pervasive gender inequalities, and Canada will rise to this challenge.
How will the IAP be consistent with the ODAAA?
  • The criteria of the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (ODAAA)‎ will continue to apply under the new policy.
  • The ODAAA requires that in order for Canada to report international assistance as ODA to Parliament, the Minister of International Development and other relevant ministers must be of the opinion that it contributes to poverty reduction, takes into account the perspectives of the poor, and is consistent with international human rights-based standards.
How will the IAP contribute to Agenda 2030 and the SDGs?
  • Through its focus on the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and girls, Canada’s feminist international assistance policy supports the main principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure no one is left behind in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Canada is a committed supporter of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. This policy sets out Canada’s approach to supporting the international effort.
  • Canada’s feminist international assistance policy recognises that only through pursuing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will the world be able to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. While SDG 5 (Gender Equality) is explicitly focused on improving the conditions faced by women and girls, gender equality cuts across all the goals and targets. 
  • Through the policy’s integrated action areas and a commitment to improving effectiveness through expanded partnerships and more responsive delivery, Canada is better equipped to support the global effort to eradicate poverty by 2030.  

Geographic Engagement

What will happen to the countries of focus model? What are the factors for determining where Canada will allocate its international assistance?
  • Canada will take a more flexible, responsive and strategic approach to the geographic allocation of all types of international assistance and will maintain the ability to provide assistance to a range of countries and regions.
  • Canada will adapt its international assistance to better respond to local needs and opportunities in the diverse range of countries where we work. We will target our assistance to where we can make a significant difference in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, including those living in fragile contexts.
  • Canada will take into account factors such as poverty and vulnerability, fragility, the needs of women and girls, country capacity and commitment, and Canada’s ability to make a difference.

Funding Levels & Allocations

Will the Government allocate new funding in support of the International Assistance Policy?
  • Canada continues to invest more than $5 billion in international assistance every year. These investments build on the Government’s actions since 2015 to restore previous reductions to the international assistance envelope.
  • Budget 2017 invested resources to continue strengthening Canada’s place in the world. Canada is opening a Development Finance Institute to leverage private finance and expertise for initiatives that align with our international assistance priorities.
  • Canada is focusing resources where they will have the most impact. To achieve our goals of helping the poorest and most vulnerable and make tangible progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Canada will work smarter. This means working with new partners and diversifying our toolkit to find solutions that deliver a transformative impact.
Without additional resources for the implementation of the new policy, could this result in a reduction of programming in certain areas?
  • Canada is reviewing and adapting its plans and programming to ensure alignment with our new feminist approach and that international assistance is used to maximum effect.
  • We will move to a more flexible and responsive approach to how and where we provide international assistance. We will target our assistance to where we can make a significant different in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, including those living in fragile contexts.

Delivery

How will Canada deliver programming differently?
  • Global Affairs Canada will place gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of our international assistance programming.  
  • We will strengthen our partnerships by streamlining programming processes and by sharing best practices and lessons learned. 
  • We will foster innovation in the delivery of our assistance, including by expanding and diversifying our delivery mechanisms through new instruments such as “repayable contributions” and outcome based funding mechanisms. We plan to mobilize financing with private sector partners and new ways to engage local partners in developing countries. 
  • This will be complemented by improvements in our collection and reporting of results.
How will Canada foster new and innovative partnerships?
  • Canada will seek to collaborate with those partners who can deliver the greatest impact and address pressing international assistance challenges in ways that are more effective than existing approaches.
  • Canada will continue to work with traditional partners from host countries, civil society, and the donor community but will seek new opportunities for collaboration with middle income country donors, the private sector, private foundations, and social entrepreneurs and local partners and communities.  We will draw on the expertise of Canadians including youth and our diverse cultural communities.
  • Deepening the use of blended finance and other innovative finance tools will enhance partnerships with the private sector in support of international assistance objectives, complementing support to the private sector offered by Canada’s new Development Finance Institute (DFI).

Benefits to Canadians

How will this new approach benefit Canada and Canadians?
  • Canadians understand that in an increasingly interconnected world, poverty and instability in other parts of the world can affect our own prosperity, security and stability. By investing in developing countries, Canada can help to encourage inclusive growth, create jobs and improve outcomes – particularly for women and girls. The networks, knowledge, and sustainable results that we build through our international assistance programming generate long-term benefits for Canadians and for global stability.
  • As the economies of developing countries strengthen and become more stable, there is an opportunity for Canada to form new and mutually beneficial trading partnerships. This in turn creates more opportunities and can lead to better, well-paying jobs for Canadians.
  • For example, China and India were among Canada’s top aid recipients in the 1990s and now are considered important economic, diplomatic, trading and cultural partners.
  • Canadians expect their government to help build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world – a world in which everyone’s human rights are protected. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy is a reflection of who we are as Canadians. It expresses our belief that a more just and inclusive, prosperous, and safer world is possible. It guides our support for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. And it particularly recognizes that women and girls are powerful agents of change for development and peace.
Why support poverty reduction elsewhere when there is poverty at home?
  • Canadians understand that in an increasingly interconnected world, poverty and instability in other parts of the world can affect our own prosperity, security and stability. By investing in developing countries, Canada can help to encourage inclusive growth and create jobs and improve outcomes – particularly for women and girls. As the economies of developing countries strengthen and become more stable, there is an opportunity for Canada to form new and mutually beneficial trading partnerships. This in turn creates more opportunities and can lead to better, well-paying jobs for Canadians. The networks, knowledge, and sustainable results that we build through our international assistance programming generate long-term benefits for Canadians and for global stability.
  • Canada is taking action both domestically and internationally to reduce poverty:
    • At home, we are investing in skills and training, strengthening social protection programs, and investing in Indigenous communities to begin addressing some of the root causes of poverty.
    • Internationally, the policy will guide Canada in making an even bigger difference in eradicating poverty, promoting peace and security, and responding to humanitarian crises.
  • Canada supports the universal SDGs both at home and abroad, including Goal 1, to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Development Finance Institute (DFI)

Why is Canada now establishing a Development Finance Institute (DFI)? Was this not already announced by the previous government in Budget 2015?
  • Canada is establishing a DFI now because alternative sources of financing are essential to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement commitments.
  • During the Review consultations, we sought input from partners and experts on the merits of a DFI, studied the evidence on public-private partnerships, and examined the most effective ways to leverage private sources of financing for international development. 
  • Governments have a unique set of financial and non-financial resources that can be used to mitigate risks and attract commercial investment in developing countries – development finance institutions are a visible form of this type of support to make a positive difference in the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, in particular women and girls. DFIs can serve to leverage commercial investment with the goal of generating inclusive growth, making a positive difference in the lives and opportunities the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. 
Is Canada considering other ways of leveraging private sector investment in support of development goals and priorities?
  • Government resources alone will be insufficient to eradicate poverty and improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, including women and girls, living in developing countries.
  • It is only through cooperation with all stakeholders, including the private sector, that the international community will be able to unlock the necessary financial resources to achieve the SDGs and other global goals. As we go forward, we are committed to exploring other innovative mechanisms that will encourage additional private sector investment in developing countries. Canada will expand its range of tools to enable joint program assistance with other donors, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and innovative financing mechanisms, including “blended” finance.
Where will the DFI work?
  • The DFI will focus its activities in countries eligible to receive ODA, taking into account Canada’s most current international priorities, presence and networks to enhance its development impact.
When will it become operational?
  • Work is already underway to stand up the new institute. The DFI is expected to begin entering into deals in January, 2018.

Timelines & Next Steps

When will the policy be implemented?
  • Implementation will begin immediately.  Changes in the policy priorities of Canada’s international assistance are effective today.  Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is now the main focus of our efforts. While we have already begun to change the way we work, evidenced by how we conducted the international assistance review consultations, some of the new approaches will take time to design and will be sequenced in their implementation. 
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