Women, Peace and Security

The Women Peace and Security Conference in Ghana.

State fragility and conflict have different impacts on women and men, girls and boys, based on their gender - their roles and responsibilities as shaped by their communities.  Although women and girls are frequently victims of today’s conflicts, they are also combatants, participants, leaders, negotiators, peacemakers, and activists. For women and girls in conflict-affected countries, some key issues are:

  • political empowerment and engagement in decision making for women, including in peace processes;
  • access to justice and to security actors such as police and judges;
  • protection of their human rights;
  • access to economic resources during post-conflict recovery;
  • sexual violence, which occurs frequently during and post conflict and is sometimes used systematically as a weapon of war.

Canada has demonstrated longstanding support for the human rights and well-being of women and girls in situations of conflict and state fragility.  Experience has shown us that sustainable peace is best achieved and maintained by empowering women to participate meaningfully in all peace and security activities, including peacekeeping, peacebuilding, mediation and conflict management, and Security System Reform.  An important part of supporting women’s participation is ensuring that women’s and girls’ human rights are respected, and they are protected from harm, including sexual violence. 

The United Nations (UN) has adopted a series of Security Council Resolutions which call for special consideration of the particular impact that conflict has on women and girls.  The Security Council Resolutions affirm that ensuring women’s participation in all peace and security activities and addressing the gender-related effects of conflict are fundamental to the development of stable states, built on a foundation of human rights and the rule of the law.

Since 2001, Canada has chaired the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security at the UN in New York.  This group provides a forum for information exchange and strategizing with other like-minded countries and non-governmental organisations in order to hold the UN system and member states to account for their responsibilities in these areas.

Canada’s Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Canada has been working domestically to implement the Security Council Resolutions including at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Department of National Defence (DND), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Public Safety Canada.  In October 2010, Canada launched Building Peace and Security for All: Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. The Action Plan is a tool which provides guidance to Government of Canada departments and agencies on addressing women, peace and security issues in policy, doctrine, programming, operations and training for peace operations, fragile states and conflict-affected situations.

Implementation of Canada’s Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is being pursued on a variety of fronts including through advancing international norms and standards, conducting sustained advocacy on a bilateral and multilateral basis; seeking mechanisms for accountability and implementation; engaging Canadian, international and local civil society organizations; and building knowledge and skills for peace and security practitioners.

Many of the actions in the Plan are accompanied by indicators which will enable us to identify gaps in our response and to respond accordingly.  The Action Plan calls for an annual, publicly available report.  The first report will be for the period of April 2011 to March 2012.

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