Background: Gender-based Analysis Plus
The Government of Canada has made advancing gender equality a top priority. To this end, the government has mandated that Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) be integrated into all policies and proposals. In Budget 2018, the government committed that more free trade agreements (FTAs) would be subject to GBA+.
What is GBA+?
GBA+ is an analytical process that policymakers use to examine the potential impacts (both intended and unintended) and opportunities of a policy, plan, program or other initiative on diverse groups of people, taking into account gender and other identity factors. The plus (+) indicates that gender-based analysis goes beyond considerations of sex and gender to include a range of intersectional identity characteristics, such as:
- Indigenous heritage
- geography (urban, rural, remote, Northern)
- socio-economic status
- family status
- sexual orientation
- mental or physical disability
GBA+ challenges assumptions and puts the lived experiences of diverse peoples at the forefront of a particular issue. GBA+ prompts officials to consider the full impact of government initiatives and to identify potential challenges at an early stage so that they can be addressed in policy design and implementation.
To conduct a GBA+, here are the key steps and considerations that should be addressed:
- Integrate GBA+ throughout the life cycle of the initiative.
- Identify and look broadly and deeply at key issues from an economic, social and cultural point of view.
- Challenge assumptions on whether there are any gender or diversity/inclusivity implications, and whether various groups are affected differently.
- Conduct research and consult with experts and, when possible, affected populations.
- Develop options and recommendations.
- Monitor and evaluate the initiative for its effects over time.
- Document findings and use GBA+ when considering how to communicate the initiative.
To learn more about GBA+, Women and Gender Equality Canada provides a free online course and several short videos.
GBA+ in trade agreements
When GBA+ is applied to trade agreements, its results can help inform negotiators and policymakers of the best ways to address gender and diversity considerations. This can help in the identification of potential negative effects and opportunities created through the application of an FTA. The end goal is to mitigate potentially negative impacts and to ensure that all Canadians benefit from trade.
Essentially, GBA+ helps develop more gender- and diversity-responsive trade policies and related measures.
For example, in conducting a GBA+ of free trade agreements, it was revealed that women, Indigenous peoples, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been traditionally under-represented in international trade. This assessment showed that while there are many SMEs owned by women and Indigenous peoples in Canada, they face unique barriers to accessing export opportunities and do not benefit from free trade agreements as much as they otherwise could.
Some potential solutions to help address this problem could include the:
- inclusion of dedicated trade and gender, trade and Indigenous peoples, and SME chapters that recognize the barriers and opportunities these groups face and that seek to mitigate or enhance them through co-operation activities; and
- development of targeted provisions in other chapters of an FTA to address issue-specific barriers and opportunities experienced by under-represented groups in trade.
A critical factor in conducting a quality GBA+ is collecting and assessing disaggregated data. This data provides the evidence base for understanding the effects of policies, including trade policies, on population groups. For Canada, data comes from Statistics Canada’s Census, Labour Force Survey and other surveys such as Women in Canada, as well as through stakeholder consultations. Global Affairs Canada’s Office of the Chief Economist uses this data for economic models that help highlight the effects of FTAs on gender and other sub-groups in the population.
GBA+ recognizes the diversity and multiplicity of identity factors and how diverse groups of Canadians may be impacted by government initiatives. GBA+ puts people at the heart of policy development and helps deliver on innovation as it encourages officials to think outside of the box. GBA+ will help ensure that Canada’s FTAs are more gender responsive so all members of Canadian society can benefit more from free trade and continued economic growth.
GBA+ will also help Canada deliver on the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality.
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