Progress Report for Canada’s National Action Plan 2017–2022 for the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security Fiscal Year 2017–2018
The launch of Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in November 2017, marked the beginning of an ambitious new feminist approach by the Government of Canada to peace and stability. The full breadth of the Canadian government is united in the realization that gender equality serves as a foundation for more peaceful and secure nations and communities. Consequently, the government has increased available funding, launched multiple new initiatives, increasingly worked with civil society, and called upon Canadian officials at home and abroad to mobilize support for women as active agents of peace. Canada’s ambitions for change are bold, but are coupled with the understanding that lasting change takes time. The government is committed to meeting its targets and investing where necessary to deliver on the objectives outlined in its second National Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (Action Plan). While its most critical behaviour-changing results have yet to be realized, this report details some of the many early results and activities already under way.
Over the last year, Canada launched the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations to increase the number of women peacekeepers globally and make their work environment safer, more inclusive, and ultimately more effective. Canada also launched, with the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, the WPS Chief of Defence Staff Network to drive transformative cultural and institutional change within national armed forces. During Canada’s 2018 G7 presidency, the government sought to advance gender equality throughout its many lines of effort. It mobilized G7 states behind a G7 Summit announcement, which committed close to $3.8 billion to increase educational opportunities for women and girls in fragile, crisis and conflict situations. The G7 WPS Partnerships Initiative, launched jointly by G7 members and eight partnership countries, further advances gender equality and women’s rights in fragile and conflict-affected states; Canada is pleased to partner with Côte d’Ivoire on this important effort.
Canada has committed to a gender-responsive humanitarian approach to deliver programming that meets the needs of women and girls, which includes sexual and reproductive health services. In places like Bangladesh and Iraq, Canada increased support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including psychosocial services and safe spaces for women. Canada initiated the G7 Whistler declarations on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action and on the Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance, which were adopted by the G7 in June 2018. The government’s leadership in addressing gender equality in humanitarian action will be further demonstrated by Canada taking the lead on the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies in 2019.
Just prior to tabling this report, Canada hosted with the EU a Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to champion women’s leadership on peace and security at the highest level. At this meeting, Canada announced the intention to appoint a WPS Ambassador to advise ministers on effective implementation of Canada’s National Action Plan and advance WPS globally. To mark the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2020, Canada also announced that it will co-chair with Uruguay the global WPS Focal Points Network. This represents a unique opportunity for Canada to work with others to strengthen international awareness and action on the WPS agenda.
Civil society groups at the local and international levels are essential partners in Canada’s Action Plan. Through the Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative, Canada is supporting local grassroots women’s rights organizations. In May 2018, the government issued a call to action to civil society, philanthropists and the private sector to collaborate in setting up a new partnership for gender equality. This new funding initiative, to which Canada has committed up to $300 million, aims to mobilize unprecedented levels of resources to help close the funding gap faced by women’s rights organizations.
Domestically, the government has formalized its partnership with civil society through the Action Plan Advisory Group to draw on the expertise of its frontline colleagues. The Advisory Group is a critical forum for all federal partners to discuss challenges and opportunities with civil society and Indigenous organizations. In addition to sharing their experienced views, Canada counts on civil society to hold the government to account, whether the government is meeting its objectives or falling short of them. The government is deeply grateful for the guidance provided by its many civil society partners, in particular the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada. There is still much to learn and improve, and it is thanks to this collaboration that Canada will continue to improve its performance in the future.
Canada’s efforts to advance the WPS agenda over the reporting period have not been without their challenges. Commitments have been made, funding has been released, and new programs are under way. However, achieving enduring results that meet government ambitions will require frequent and honest reflection on the areas where it needs to improve. Administrative hurdles, measurement and attribution challenges, as well as ongoing difficulties in operating in conflict contexts, oblige the government to adapt its tools. Despite the obstacles confronting the Action Plan, the Government of Canada remains wholly committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that progress toward our shared WPS objectives continues steadily, thoughtfully and relentlessly; women, girls and all of those afflicted by an absence of peace and security deserve nothing less.
Who is Elsie?
The Elsie Initiative is named after Canadian women’s rights pioneer Elsie MacGill (1905-1980). Born in Vancouver, Ms. MacGill graduated from the University of Toronto in 1927 and became the first Canadian woman to receive a degree in electrical engineering.
Elsie MacGill was also the first woman to design aircraft and was in charge of the production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter at Canadian Car and Foundry, which employed 200 women during the Second World War.
Ms. MacGill overcame numerous challenges to achieve a lifetime of accomplishments. At 24 years old, she contracted a severe form of polio. Turning her experience as a patient into a call for action, she became a champion for women’s rights and the rights of people with disabilities. Elsie MacGill fought for the advancement and interests of women and people with disabilities through her tireless volunteer contributions on numerous national committees. She served as a commissioner of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, and further served as Canada’s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Launched on November 1, 2017, Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security Footnote 1 calls for a holistic approach to improving security, promoting gender equality and building sustainable peace across all of Canada’s efforts in fragile, conflict-affected and humanitarian settings. It aims to ensure a coherent, government-wide response to the needs identified in the WPS agenda and, by extension, to advance the agenda in tandem with local and international partners. The Action Plan is a central plank in Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, which includes the Feminist International Assistance and Canadian Defence policies.
Several government departments and agencies play an active role in implementing Canada’s Action Plan. Lead partners are Global Affairs Canada, the Department of National Defence (DND), the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Supporting and new partners are Public Safety Canada (PS), Status of Women Canada (SWC), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Department of Justice, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). In addition to applying Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in policy and programming at home and abroad, departments and agencies also take specific measures to promote diversity and gender equality. Their plans for advancing the WPS agenda and the Action Plan’s objectives are publicly available.
The Action Plan has already galvanized efforts by government departments and agencies to increase efforts both domestically and overseas. International assistance programs have channelled additional resources and developed new tools to further incorporate WPS into their investments. During the reporting year, for example, Global Affairs Canada disbursed $408 million to projects advancing the WPS agenda, as compared to $221 million in the year prior. During this period, Canada also increased advocacy and political leadership in both the bilateral and multilateral context, promoting WPS in more than 60 high-level interventions.
Canada’s Action Plan sets out the Government of Canada’s specific commitments to advance the WPS agenda for the period 2017–2022. The Action Plan commits Canada to:
- increase the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state-building;
- prevent, respond to and end impunity for SGBV perpetrated in conflict and sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other international personnel, including humanitarian and development staff;
- promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in fragile, conflict and post-conflict settings;
- meet the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings, including the upholding of their sexual rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services; and
- strengthen the capacity of peace operations to advance the WPS agenda, including by deploying more women and fully embedding the WPS agenda into CAF operations and police deployments.
The renewed Action Plan represents an opportunity for government departments and partners to challenge their own ways of thinking and acting when it comes to gender equality, and to better incorporate the goal of equality into programs designed to support peaceful and prosperous societies.
In its first year, the new approach has already increased ownership and accountability on departmental and programmatic levels. These are critical ingredients in accelerating the government’s efforts to mainstream Action Plan objectives. The hiring of additional gender advisors and the establishment of gender focal points within DND, CAF, and peace and security divisions at Global Affairs Canada, are examples of efforts to improve gender mainstreaming. Although still in the early stages, these measures have already resulted in better integration of gender equality and GBA+ considerations into government analyses, policies and programming.
The launch of the Action Plan has created new opportunities for increased WPS engagement from Canada’s political leadership, including the Prime Minister and ministers. Canadian diplomats are working to identify new opportunities to support WPS efforts by continually reaching out to new women’s rights organizations and outstanding women peacebuilders, especially at the grassroots level. This outreach has created opportunities to form new networks and connections with WPS champions around the world. Canada has actively sought to ensure that women’s voices are heard in peace and security forums. Examples include the creation of the Gender Equality Advisory Council to advise the G7 presidency on concrete actions to advance gender equality, Canada’s invitation to women peace activists to participate in an event on enhancing the voices of women peacemakers during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on North Korea in January 2018, and the invitation to civil society to help prepare and actively participate in the Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Montréal.
The Action Plan has created opportunities to advance the WPS agenda domestically as well. An improved understanding of the gendered impacts of conflict and its reinforcement of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by, for example, religious minorities, Indigenous women and LGBTQ2 persons, has helped inform Canada’s efforts in the resettlement of refugees, including Yazidi women and girls and other survivors of Daesh.
The Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence (Canada Centre) was launched in June 2017 to provide leadership and support for countering radicalization to violence in Canada. In all of its partnerships, the Canada Centre ensures that efforts to understand, prevent and counter radicalization to violence in Canada integrate the tenets of the WPS agenda by consulting with diverse citizens and community-based organizations; by paying attention to distinctive risk and preventive factors as well as strengths and vulnerabilities of diverse communities, families, women and youth; and by integrating considerations of gender and diversity into the design, measurement and evaluation of programs. The Canada Centre, in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada, also leads Canada’s international efforts on countering radicalization to violence. One example of results during the reporting period was the integration of gender considerations into the G7 commitments relating to countering radicalization to violence. Policies that reflect WPS principles have also helped strengthen efforts to improve gender equality in the CAF and RCMP, an important step in increasing the gender awareness and sensitivity of Canadian deployments to international peace operations and other stabilization efforts.
The new Action Plan has also provided the Government of Canada with an opportunity to pilot an approach in tracking international assistance investments that advance the WPS agenda. Tracking funding is crucial in demonstrating progress on implementing the Action Plan, ensuring ongoing support for the WPS agenda, and strengthening accountability. To date, there is no internationally agreed-upon method for tracking WPS funding. A description of Canada’s approach to tracking WPS investments is outlined in the attached annex. It builds on the gender equality policy marker and thematic purpose codes developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
When Canada organized a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Stability and Security on the Korean Peninsula with the United States in Vancouver, women peacebuilders were invited to present their recommendations and participate in a round table led by Canada’s foreign minister. The initiative provided an important opportunity to hear the views and insights of civil society representatives, including women peace activists, giving them access to decision makers and setting a precedent for future meetings.
Advancing the WPS agenda necessarily requires working with numerous partners, on challenging issues, in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The challenges of working in these contexts are not unknown to the government, but they remain pernicious. In some cases, for example, local governments may be implicated in a given conflict, be unreliable as partners, or even be the cause of the instability that Canada is trying to address. Challenges to engagement are compounded when discriminatory gender norms are exacerbated by conflict, and when men and women alike put gender equality behind the security concerns they view as more pressing. In conflict-affected societies that are also deeply patriarchal, barriers to women’s engagement can be extremely high. Women exercising their rights can be perceived as a threat, leading to backlash in the form of exclusion or even abuse by their families and communities.
Canada’s support for the collection of evidence of Daesh and Syrian regime violations of international criminal and humanitarian law, including instances of SGBV, has encountered a number of context-specific challenges. A lack of security, delayed access to the areas that were liberated from Daesh, and witness fatigue were among the chief obstacles. Survivors and witnesses have expressed growing frustration about the delay in obtaining justice, as well as a sense of psychological fatigue due to the numerous media and NGOs with whom they shared their experiences. This could also be true of Rohingya refugees, who may find themselves inadvertently doubly victimized.
The Syrian context encapsulates several of the challenges described above. While Canada was successful in advocating for an increased number of women in the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), Footnote 2 Canada’s financial support to the Women’s Advisory Board, created by the UN in 2016 to represent women’s views at the Geneva peace talks, saw limited results. While the existence of the Board succeeded in bringing women’s perspectives to negotiations, their engagement was made difficult by barriers to meaningful participation and ongoing debates on the selection of the representatives.
Working in complex and fluid conflict contexts challenges the ability of programs to accurately measure the results of their assistance. The current report is the first annual progress report on the implementation of the new Action Plan. Given that its baselines and indicators were newly created, current results focus more on short-term outcomes of government activities than actual progress. Measuring change is difficult in the early stages of the Action Plan. Further, in many instances Canada cooperates with multiple partners when delivering WPS programs and projects. Tying the results of Canada’s specific contributions to the broader activities of many can pose reporting and attribution challenges.
While Canada has taken strides to support local women’s rights organizations through mechanisms such as the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF), challenges to funding grassroots women’s organizations remain. Application requirements can prove too burdensome for some organizations, and smaller projects can be difficult or inefficient to administer for donors. Questions regarding the credibility of new or unknown local organizations present additional challenges. Ultimately, while funding mechanisms designed to limit risk to the Crown can conflict with Canada’s interest in supporting nascent women’s organizations and change-makers, the government is working hard to identify tools and processes that are fit for purpose.
Federal Action Plan partners over the last year have significantly improved their understanding of the importance of the WPS agenda to achieve peace and security goals. Yet, much work remains to ensure that officials more systematically integrate this agenda into their policy and programming efforts.
“In South Sudan, strong social and institutional norms and attitudes impede the inclusion of women and women’s rights in local, regional and national decision making. To help tackle this, the embassy brings advocacy and programming together, for example by supporting grassroots women’s rights organizations in their efforts to promote women’s rights, and working with women leaders who are actively engaged in ensuring that women’s interests are advanced by the peace process.” - Canadian diplomat to South Sudan
“One recurring challenge is the sense among implementing partners that women’s inclusion in peace and security is impossible in culturally and socially conservative Iraq. Gender equality is not a priority because ‘we have a war to fight.’ Following Canada’s contribution for a gender advisor, the United Nations Funding Facility for Stabilization now specifically reports on women’s participation in stabilization activities, particularly in the area of livelihoods and housing rehabilitation. Performance tracking includes some gender-disaggregated data. Cultural and social norms, which until now seemed insurmountable, are being overcome through creative interventions in certain instances.” - Canadian diplomat to Iraq
This section aims to summarize results stemming from Canada’s efforts—whether programmatic, diplomatic or internal capacity building—for fiscal year 2017–18 (April 1, 2017–March 31, 2018) according to the Action Plan’s five main objectives. In the departmental reports, which complement this narrative summary, implementation plan targets have been assigned one of five ratings to measure progress: too early to report ; attention required ; mostly on track ; on track ; and target achieved or surpassed . This summary provides an aggregated rating of targets found in the implementation plans for the year in review, and includes illustrative examples of Canada’s results. Footnote 3
Objective 1: Increase the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict statebuilding
Rating: On track
In the last year, Canada has addressed this objective with initiatives ranging from formal track one peace negotiations, to supporting local peacebuilding and mediation efforts. Examples of these efforts include the following:
- In Afghanistan, Canadian advocacy led to the appointment of six women to the Government of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. Footnote 4
- In Colombia, Canada’s support for Indigenous women in peacebuilding resulted in 20 members of the National Council of Indigenous Women receiving training, 15 of whom are actively engaged in decision-making and communications activities in the Colombian peace process.
- In Mali, Canadian financial support resulted in hundreds of women gaining increased leadership and peacebuilding skills.
- In Burundi, Canada’s support to the WPHF contributed to the creation of a women’s mediation network that is effectively preventing violence at the local level.
- In Iraq, a project training 42 women in decision-making processes related to national reconciliation in liberated areas resulted in four of those trained participating as political candidates and 13 as organizers in the 2018 parliamentary elections.
- Canada partnered with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to support women’s organizations in seven participation N-Peace Footnote 5 countries, and with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) to support women’s rights organizations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
- In multilateral forums, Canada established a Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security in Geneva, similar to the Canadian-led Group of Friends in New York. These groups facilitate information sharing, advance policy positions, and leverage the impact of advocacy efforts.
In South Sudan, Canada has worked alongside civil society and like-minded countries to increase the number of women’s rights groups and women leaders represented in the peace process. . The embassy used social and traditional media and various events to advocate for women’s meaningful participation in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Footnote 6 and with other stakeholders, including parties to the conflict. Results include an increased number of women participating in the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) Footnote 7 and a commitment by the parties to the HLRF to include women and girls and address their needs in the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on December 21, 2017. Footnote 8
Objective 2: Prevent, respond to and end impunity for sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other international personnel, including humanitarian and development staff
Rating: Mostly on track
Preventing conflict-related SGBV, supporting survivors and ensuring accountability remains a top priority for the government. This also holds true for addressing sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers and international assistance personnel who are entrusted to protect the most vulnerable. This trust has been abused in the past and Canada will work doggedly to prevent and respond to such abuses in the future. Throughout the reporting period:
- Canada’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad engaged, along with other like-minded diplomats, with a range of stakeholders such as members of the Council of Representatives (Iraqi parliament) to advocate against amendments to the Personal Status Law. The law would have allowed for child marriage at the age of nine. Because of these joint efforts, along with those of Iraqi civil society, the amendments were withdrawn.
- In recognition that impunity is a major barrier to addressing and preventing cases of SGBV, Canada deployed SGBV investigators to the UN’s Myanmar Fact-Finding Mission, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. These deployments resulted in the collection of evidence that has produced records that underscore the prevalence and brutality of SGBV crimes.
- Canada also worked to ensure that there is accountability for Daesh violations of international criminal and humanitarian law, including against the Yazidi community, and provided support to increase the institutional capacity of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
- Canada contributed to the work of the International Association of Prosecutors, whose Prosecuting Conflict-related Sexual Violence Network improves accountability through, for example, the development of progressive approaches to sexual violence prosecutions.
- Canada worked to elicit a greater commitment to tackling SEA by UN peacekeepers and aid workers, and to provide support to victims. Footnote 9
- Canada also began work in early 2018 to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place across all of the Government of Canada’s international assistance to prevent and reduce the risk of SEA in the delivery of international assistance.
- While there were no SEA allegations against Canadian peacekeepers or Canadian UN staff deployed by the Government of Canada during the reporting period, allegations involving a Canadian police peacekeeper that emerged in FY 2016–17 were substantiated by the UN and remain under investigation by Canadian authorities
- In Canada, as in other countries that contribute personnel to peace operations, gaps in accountability frameworks have in some cases led to the inability to pursue disciplinary or legal action against offenders. This is an Action Plan area where further attention is required to address shortcomings and strengthen accountability frameworks for Canadian peacekeepers.
Objective 3: Promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in fragile, conflict and post-conflict settings
Rating: On track
Women’s and girls’ empowerment, the protection of their human rights and gender equality are at the core of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, including its Feminist International Assistance Policy. Results in the Action Plan’s first year include the following:
- Canada contributed to an increased percentage of women serving in the Afghan National Police Footnote 10 and to the construction of the Women’s Police Town in Kabul that will provide secure housing for policewomen and their families.
- Canadian efforts to achieve a more gender-responsive justice system in Guatemala saw outputs such as gender equality training for more than 220 staff in the justice sector. Footnote 11
- In Mali, Canada’s support to improve women’s access to justice had results such as providing 80 women with legal assistance, with 23 of these cases concluded (a steep increase from six cases concluded in 2016–17).
- With Canadian support, a network of women’s rights organizations in the Great Lakes region, including from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi, which amplifies women’s voices in the fight for political participation and respect for their rights, became an important agent in addressing SGBV in the region.
- Canada’s support to rural co-operatives Footnote 12 in Colombia resulted in 95 women being trained in story-telling to reframe and overcome traumatic experiences of violence. A total of 3,455 individuals (60% women) received training on women’s rights. This program also supported women’s increased and meaningful participation, including as decision makers, in rural cooperatives and associations.
- Aligning with Canada’s role as gender focal point for the Global Coalition against Daesh’s Working Group on Stabilization, Canada successfully advocated for the WPHF to expand to Iraq, a decision made possible by financial contributions from Canada and the United Kingdom.
- A result from efforts in multilateral forums is the Canada-initiated focus on engaging men and boys in the annual Human Rights Council resolution on the elimination of violence against women and girls.
- In Canada, the resettling of Yazidi women and girls and other survivors of Daesh was completed, and Budget 2018 allocated funds to welcome an additional 1,000 refugee women and girls from various conflict zones, Footnote 13 as well as to support newcomer women who are also members of visible minority groups in an effort to remove potential barriers to their employment.
Through the CFLI, a small projects fund managed directly by Canada’s network of missions abroad, Canada is able to support a range of local organizations that have a strong understanding of the local context and community needs. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are both stand-alone priorities as well as cross-cutting themes for CFLI programming. During the reporting period, over $2 million was disbursed in support of 82 projects related to the implementation of the WPS agenda. Recipients included 19 local women’s rights organizations working to promote the human rights of women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Gender, security and natural resources
As a result of a Canada-supported project with civil society organization IMPACT to build responsible and conflict-free mineral supply chains in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 62 women from five communities and six mine sites established the Network for the Empowerment of Women in Mining Communities (RAEFECOM). RAEFECOM aims to improve living conditions for women, promote their rights and access to social services, and build solidarity. The network is documenting cases of sexual violence and working with local organizations to ensure that survivors can access the services they need. The creation of RAEFECOM is proof of women’s strengthened decision-making and leadership roles in the involved communities.
Objective 4: Meet the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings, including the upholding of their sexual rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services
Rating: On track
Canada took on a global leadership role in promoting gender-responsive humanitarian assistance and sexual and reproductive health services through increased levels of funding, intensified advocacy and initiatives such as the Minister of International Development championing the SheDecides global movement. In addition, the government is pleased to confirm the following:
- Humanitarian assistance that integrated gender equality increased from 53% to 93% during the reporting period. Footnote 14
- For the Action Plan focus countries the DRC, Syria and Iraq, which receive significant levels of Canadian humanitarian assistance funding, 100% of humanitarian assistance programming integrated gender equality considerations. These results were accomplished by a range of measures, such as updating the Global Affairs Canada’s NGO funding application guidelines, providing additional guidance to staff and partners, and prioritizing gender-responsive project proposals.
- In Guatemala, 37,899 adolescent girls, to a large majority Indigenous, are better able to express and exercise their rights to decide on important life choices such as relationship formation/marriage, childbearing, sexuality and education.
- In Haiti, Canada supported the construction of a maternity clinic that will increase access to family-planning services, prevention and screening of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as services for survivors of sexual violence.
- Canada promoted gender-responsive humanitarian action and the provision of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) by other actors through raising awareness with interlocutors and participating in international mechanisms. For example, as co-chair of the States/Donors Working Group of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Emergencies, Canada led advocacy efforts that resulted in the UN Population Fund strengthening its approach to GBV in humanitarian operations, including through the establishment of a dedicated GBV coordinator.
- Gender considerations were also a top Canadian priority in the negotiations behind the new Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, with Canada advocating for gender-responsive approaches in both negotiations and statements. Footnote 15
Objective 5: Strengthen the capacity of peace operations to advance the WPS agenda, including by deploying more women and fully embedding the WPS agenda into CAF operations and police deployments
Rating: Mostly on track
Canada undertook an array of new initiatives to strengthen the capacity of peace operations to advance the WPS agenda during the reporting period.
- The innovative, five-year Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations was launched by Canada in November 2017 to test new ways to increase the meaningful participation of women serving in uniformed and military roles in UN peace operations. A contact group of 11 countries Footnote 16 was established to support the goals of the Elsie Initiative, and a two-day international design workshop took place with more than 120 experts and professionals in attendance.
- A new WPS Chiefs of Defence Network was launched by Canada, the United Kingdom and Bangladesh to share best practices and compare progress in addressing barriers and challenges to integrating WPS in national militaries. Canada will succeed the United Kingdom as chair of the Network in 2019.
- Dedicated efforts were made to recruit women for the Canadian deployment to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), resulting in women making up 14% of the Canadian contingent, including the task force deputy commander, and to ensure gender-responsive action through the deployment of a gender advisor.
- Domestically, several measures were taken to recruit and retain women in the CAF, including the “Dare to be extraordinary” recruitment advertisement campaign that targets groups of all genders and sexual orientation. During the reporting period, 5,032 regular force employment offers were made, which resulted in the recruitment of 860 women (17%). Currently, women make up just over 15% of the CAF. Footnote 17
- The RCMP drafted a survey of Canadian police women to identify potential barriers and facilitate women’s participation in policing, to be launched next year, when an action plan on this issue will be developed.
- Of the 45 Canadian police newly deployed to international peace operations during the fiscal year, women made up 18%, as compared to 14% the previous year. Footnote 18
- Canada also supported UN efforts to increase the number of women police peacekeepers. For instance, Canadian funding supported efforts by UN Police to host women senior police officer command development courses in Ethiopia and Malaysia, which trained 91 senior policewomen.
Improving the Government of Canada’s capacity to implement the Action Plan
Rating: Mostly on track
Action Plan partners set a number of targets to improve their own capacity to implement the Action Plan objectives, including on WPS training, improved integration of GBA+ and gender equality programming.
- Federal partners worked to improve their coordination structure and incorporate the Action Plan into corporate reporting and results frameworks.
- SWC continued to collaborate with Action Plan partners to improve their internal capacity to apply GBA+.
- DND/CAF established a GBA+ Joint Responsibility Centre that is mandated to ensure a joint approach to integrating gender equality and diversity perspectives into all of their activities, and committed to making the GBA+ online introduction course mandatory for all staff.
- The RCMP continued its work on promoting gender equality and diversity at all levels within the organization, including through a new National Council for Diversity and Inclusion. The National Council is tasked with finalizing the 2017–2020 Diversity and Employment Equity Plan, and a new Workforce Culture and Employee Engagement unit with promoting gender equality and culture change over the long term, including by ensuring the use of GBA+ across the organization. Footnote 19
- Gender equality training was delivered to 194 staff (at embassies and headquarters) by gender equality specialists at Global Affairs Canada’s Gender Equality Division, an increase from 135 in 2015–16 and 147 in 2016– Since that time, Global Affairs Canada’s employees have been provided with a gender equality toolkit to guide their programming efforts.
- The government developed a new two-day course on gender and conflict for government employees in collaboration with the United Kingdom. The course was offered twice during the reporting period. Footnote 20
- At the end of the reporting period, 95% of programming officers and managers in Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) had completed gender equality or WPS training.
- A network of focal points representing all federal Action Plan partners was developed to help coordinate the implementation of the Action Plan, and the number of Global Affairs Canada staff dedicated to advancing WPS and coordinating the implementation of the Action Plan has increased. Results from this increased capacity includes the development of a WPS advocacy toolkit for missions abroad, rapid support to ambassadors and other officials to support WPS activities and advocacy, the initiation of WPS outreach sessions with Action Plan partners and programs, and consultations with other countries to share lessons learned on developing and implementing national Action Plans.
Considerable progress has been made during the reporting period to set the Action Plan into motion. Important tasks in the second and following years include a commitment to:
- appoint a WPS Ambassador and establish an office to support this position;
- develop an approach to advancing WPS as it relates to Indigenous women and girls, including through an expanded federal partnership;
- implement G7 commitments relating to WPS;
- improve implementation plan indicators, including to better measure impact and capture gender disaggregated data;
- consider adding implementation targets, for example on natural resources and the role their exploitation can have in fuelling conflict or instability and disproportionally affecting women and girls, particularly Indigenous women and girls;
- increase focus on supporting youth as agents of change in the promotion of peace and security;
- increase focus on engaging men and boys in addressing SGBV and advancing gender equality in conflict settings;
- further explore avenues for supporting grassroots women’s rights organizations; and
- further understand the multiple and complex roles of women in conflict, including as active participants in violence.
To improve policy coherence, coordination and the integration of the WPS agenda across the government, especially for emerging conflict situations, the government will explore:
- looking at options for integrating advice from the new WPS Ambassador;
- further defining the roles of WPS Champions and expert-level focal points;
- increasing WPS outreach sessions for Action Plan partners;
- developing a common understanding of gender and a feminist approach in the context of the WPS agenda; and
- considering how to further the already strong collaboration with civil society partners and improve coordination with Indigenous stakeholders.
This year marks an exciting moment for Canada and for all advocates of the WPS agenda. Together we remain focused on advancing the Action Plan’s five main objectives though the delivery of diplomatic, advocacy and programming efforts that build on lessons learned from our efforts across the globe. The Government of Canada recommits to continuing its pursuit of its Action Plan objectives as our activities and outputs transform into enduring results.
Tracking of International Assistance Investments to advance Women, Peace and Security
Background: There is no internationally agreed method to track international assistance investments to advance WPS. In reporting undertaken under the previous Action Plan, in fiscal year (FY) 2014–15 and 2015–16, Global Affairs Canada tracked its WPS-related funding using a method that included the total funding allocated to projects that specifically advanced WPS or that contained a WPS component based on an analysis conducted by individual programming officers. Due to the subjective nature of such analyses, inconsistencies in reporting were possible and may have resulted in inaccurate figures.
Canada’s new funding tracking method: Taking these lessons into account, and building upon the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) approach to capturing international assistance spending allocated to advancing gender equality in fragile states, Canada has developed a new method to track WPS spending. This method is based on a combination of OECD-DAC purpose codes, Footnote 21 Global Affairs Canada’s gender equality (GE) codes, Footnote 22 and a list of fragile and conflict-affected states created using three indices: the Fragile States Index, Global Peace Index and OECD States of Fragility Report. The projects are captured in our project database using these search criteria. Because of the application of OECD-DAC codes, the method can more accurately capture the relevant WPS components of projects, thereby providing more accurate reporting on funding amounts.
WPS funding: During the reporting year, based on this new method, preliminary reporting demonstrates that Global Affairs Canada disbursed approximately $408 million to projects advancing the WPS agenda, as compared to $221 million in the previous year. Footnote 23, Footnote 24 These figures stem from 215 projects that fully integrated gender considerations (GE-02) and from 55 projects that targeted advancing gender equality (GE-03).
In the Action Plan’s countries of focus, Global Affairs Canada disbursed the following amounts on WPS programming: $41.4 million in Iraq; $39.3 million in Syria; $31.5 million in Afghanistan; $23.2 million in Haiti; $22 million in the DRC; $20.6 million in Mali; $18.7 million in Jordan; $18.6 million in Lebanon; $12.1 million in Colombia; $10.6 million in South Sudan; $6.4 million in Myanmar; $3.7 million in Guatemala; and $1.7 million in Burundi.
Below is a breakdown of Global Affairs Canada’s disbursements broadly aligned with the Action Plan’s main objectives: Footnote 25
- Gender-responsive peacebuilding, peacemaking, and post-conflict state-building, including support to women and women’s groups working on peace-related issues: $27 million in FY 2017–18, as compared to $14.6 million in FY 2016–17, representing an increase of 85%.
- Prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, including ending impunity and providing services to survivors, and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse: $60.4 million in FY 2017–18, as compared to $27.8 million in FY 2016–17, representing an increase of 117%.
- Promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights and empowerment in fragile and conflict-affected settings, including support to a gender-responsive security sector, women’s political participation, girls’ primary education and combatting violent extremism: $106.3 million in FY 2017–18, as compared to $81.7 million in FY 2016–17, representing an increase of 30%.
- Advancing gender equality in humanitarian settings: $100.7 million in FY 2017–18, as compared to $47.7 million in 2016–17. This represents an increase of 111%.
- Sexual and reproductive health and rights in fragile, conflict-affected states and humanitarian settings: $113 million in FY 2017–18, as compared to $49.3 million in FY 2016–17, representing an increase of 129%.
- Strengthening the capacity of peace operations to advance WPS: $664,000 as compared to $0 in 2016–17.
Note that some of above areas capture a much broader range of issues than others, which will be reflected in the funding amounts.
Limitations and challenges: As with any financial reporting, there are limitations and challenges to this methodology. Firstly, the decision to include only GE-02 and GE-03 projects (but not GE-01), may exclude some projects that contribute to implementing the Action Plan without being focused on gender equality, such as SEA training for peacekeepers. Another example is the SRHR projects in humanitarian settings that consider the specific needs of women and girls, which contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan but lack the additional requirements for a higher GE coding, such as promoting women’s empowerment. Secondly, projects that support girls will usually benefit boys equally (when targeting children or youth), and the method will not specify the proportion of the funding that specifically benefits girls.
Another challenge relates to breaking down the numbers according to the Action Plan’s main objectives, as those are interrelated and some projects contribute to more than one objective. In this case, to avoid double-counting, a project was attributed to one or the other. The Action Plan objectives were also somewhat modified, for the purposes of tracking funding, to create more programming-adapted distinctions between different areas of WPS programming.
In spite of these limitations, the government believes that the method minimizes the margin of error and allows for a reliable year-over-year comparison and measuring of progress. By limiting the tracking to projects that fully integrate gender considerations (GE-02) or specifically target gender equality (GE-03), it will be able to focus on projects that yield higher gender equality results, and overall with greater certainty advance WPS in a significant way. The government looks forward to sharing its lessons learned and collaborating with others to further improve the method.
Objective #1 – Peacebuilding, peacemaking, and post-conflict statebuilding
FY 2016/2017 – 14.60
FY 2017/18 – 27.00
Objective #2 – Sexual and gender-based violence and abuse
FY 2016/17 – 27.80
FY 2017/18 – 60.40
Objective #3 – Human rights and empowerment
FY 2016/17 – 81.70
FY 2017/18 – 106.30
Objective #4A – Gender equality in humanitarian settings
FY 2016/17 – 47.70
FY 2017/18 – 100.70
Objective #4B – Sexual and reproductive health and rights
FY 2016/17 – 49.30
FY 2017/18 – 113.00
Objective #5 – Strengthening the capacity of peace operations
FY 2016/17 – 0.00
FY 2017/18 – 0.66
*Funding in CA$ million
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