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Department of Justice implementation of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Department of Justice and Women, Peace and Security

The Department of Justice supports the Minister of Justice in working to ensure that Canada is a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system of justice; providing legal services to the government and to other federal departments and agencies; and promoting respect for rights and freedoms, the law and the Constitution.

Through its International Legal Programs Section, the department contributes to international development by providing strategic advice on law and development issues to Global Affairs Canada and other departments when so requested; and designing and implementing legal technical assistance projects when funded for that purpose by Global Affairs Canada.

Generally — and in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and related Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions, as well as with its internal policy on Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) —the Department is committed to integrating gender equality considerations in every aspect of its development-related work.


The Department will, in the provision of strategic advice and throughout its policy development, make every effort to identify the potential impact of any contemplated initiative on the justice system as a whole and on the ability of vulnerable groups, including women and girls, to access justice.

In project design, it will ensure that:

In project implementation, it will ensure that:

The exact subjects on which the Department will integrate gender equality considerations will depend largely on the nature and scope of the assistance requested by a partner country, since under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness assisted countries must remain the master of their priorities.

That said, in its advice, policy and program development, and project work, the Department of Justice will always be mindful of the fact that the various justice matters of particular importance to women include the following:

Domestic violence

Violence within the family is a significant issue in many countries.

In the development of domestic violence policies and programs, the Department is in a position not only to help address the strictly legal aspects of the subject, but also to encourage the development of a comprehensive approach reflecting the complexity of the phenomenon.


Imprisonment is not a gender-neutral measure in terms of impact. A large majority of women in jail are mothers, most of them single mothers and primary caregivers to their children. As a result, a mother's incarceration generally affects children in a way that a father's imprisonment does not.

The Department can, on policy development matters, bring extensive expertise and a gender perspective to any reform effort that involves looking at the use of imprisonment, non-custodial measures, and criminal law more generally. More specifically, and among other things, it can encourage compliance with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules).

Juvenile justice

Gender considerations are equally relevant in the field of juvenile justice. The treatment of female offenders under 18 years of age is a matter that generally receives even less attention than the treatment of adult women or juvenile male offenders.

With its in-depth knowledge of matters related to young offenders, the Department can help design a juvenile justice system that is gender-sensitive and complies with international requirements, including:

Access to justice

Both social and institutional barriers often inhibit women's access to justice.

The Department, through its expertise in areas such as legal aid systems, the treatment of witnesses, support to victims, and relations between the legal system and indigenous populations, can contribute to the design of reforms aimed at removing or reducing these barriers.

Law and poverty

Offences committed by women are often closely linked to poverty, and frequently a means of survival to support their family. Poverty compounds access justice challenges for marginalized and underserved populations, including women.

The Department can contribute usefully to any discussion pertaining to the intersection of law and poverty.

Sexual violence committed as an international crime

Through its Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section, the Department supports the investigation and prosecution of acts of sexual violence that are committed as a tool of war or as an act of genocide against girls and women. One individual has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, S.C. 2000, c. 24, for having committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including numerous acts of sexual violence against Tutsi women. [R. c. Munyaneza, 2009 QCCS 4865 - CanLII]

The department recognizes that girls and women are more vulnerable to war crimes: they are more likely to be victims of acts of sexual violence committed as a tool of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Moreover, acts of sexual violence have an enormous impact on women. They may be forcibly impregnated or be infected with different sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Further, some cultures shun women victims of sexual assault and others do not allow them to speak out about their victimization. The Department will continue its support of the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity cases.


In light of the fact that the Department of Justice only provides technical assistance to foreign countries at the request and with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada, the extent of this involvement in the implementation of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will be determined by the number and scope of the projects that Global Affairs Canada funds.


Strategic advice and policy development

Project design

Project implementation


The Department of Justice will seek to identify various ways of contributing as fully as possible to the implementation of the WPS agenda. This could include, among other things, developing programs for women in fragile states.

Completed Activities

Justice Canada has supported the work of networks and women’s organizations such as Namati, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies by promoting the realization of SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 16 (Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies) on the international stage.  Justice Canada has contributed to bringing international attention and potential investment to addressing inequalities against women through its support of the Justice for All task force and its High Level Working Group on Women’s Access to Justice.

It is recognized that Canada’s efforts to promote the WPS agenda on the world stage must be supported by similar endeavors at home. Justice Canada is contributing to a number of domestic initiatives that promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights and gender equality, including the following: 

Results and Progress

Strategic advice

Justice Canada provides legal advice to client departments including those who have a mandate that involves assisting fragile or conflict-affected states during the reporting period. Justice Canada’s contribution would be reflected in the context of overall progress indicated by these departments.

Project design

The Department of Justice did not conduct any evaluations of assistance needs or develop any projects or project proposals in the context of fragile or conflict-affected states during the reporting period.
As above, progress would be measured against the indicators by client departments more directly involved in assisting fragile and conflict-affected states

Project implementation

The Department of Justice provides technical assistance to foreign countries at the request and with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada. At the same time, Justice Canada’s broader leadership role, exercised in concert with international partners, has resulted in important research including the Justice for All report, and the creation of key networks, such as the OGP Coalition on Justice, which serve to promote gender equality and inclusion as expressed by the UN 2030 Agenda and in particular Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies).

With greater attention being placed on domestic efforts, Justice Canada has similarly worked in concert with many domestic stakeholders such as the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters and partners including provinces and territories to advance a people-focused approach to justice that seeks to eradicate discrimination of all types and remove barriers in order to provide greater access to justice.

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