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2018-2019 Women and Gender Equality Canada departmental progress report for Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Women and Gender Equality Canada and Women, Peace and Security

On December 13, 2018, Parliament passed the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 (Bill C-86), which included legislation to create Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE). Through this legislation, Status of Women Canada became an official Department of the Government of Canada.  This formalizes the important role of WAGE, the work it is undertaking, and its Minister. Through policy, programming, funding, and research, WAGE supports the advancement of gender equality as a central priority for the Government of Canada and to coordinate such efforts across the federal government.

WAGE acts as a Centre for Excellence on Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+), both inside and outside of government, and facilitates the transfer of knowledge between various stakeholders. One of WAGE’s key roles is to help build the capacity of federal departments and agencies in sustaining the practice of GBA+ and expanding it across a variety of fields. This includes the development and provision of tools and training, such as the introductory online course for all federal government employees and more targeted training for specific sectors, including the security and defence sector.

WAGE also contributes by providing technical advice, guidance, and assistance on key Government of Canada initiatives, including activities of Canada’s National Action Plan (the Action Plan) on Women Peace and Security (WPS) partner departments, to ensure that all plans, programs and/or initiatives and peace support operations are responsive to gender considerations.

Women and Gender Equality Canada’s role and approach to Gender-based Analysis Plus

The GBA+ Action Plan (2016-2020) launched by WAGE, the Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board Secretariat, laid out detailed commitments to increase the integration of GBA+ across government, including:

Significant progress has been made in all areas, including: measures to create new requirements for GBA+ in Cabinet proposals; establishment and strengthening of networks; the launch of GBA+ implementation surveys to gauge progress in implementation, identify gaps; and, enhanced GBA+ training and tools to enhance the integration and impact of GBA+. With the Action Plan coming to an end in 2020, work is currently being planned to evaluate the activities undertaken as part of the Action Plan, and to consider options to sustain momentum beyond 2020.

The Government of Canada published its first-ever gender-based assessment of budgetary measures in Budget 2017. This set Canada on a path of continuous improvement in ensuring that gender is considered in all stages of the budget cycle, and reinforced the requirement for departments to integrate gender perspectives and other intersecting identities into their work. The Government has directed that GBA+ be integrated into Departmental Results Frameworks, Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, thereby strengthening the ability to monitor the impact of GBA+ on government program, policies and/or initiatives. The Government of Canada has also directed that GBA+ be integrated into the design and conduct of future government consultations, and guidance to this effect is being created in partnership with Privy Council Office. To enable the application of GBA+ across a range of federal activities, WAGE continues to strengthen its focus on building capacity, technical expertise and functional support.

Collaboration with Action Plan Partners on Women, Peace and Security

WAGE works closely with the lead Women, Peace and Security Action Plan partner departments Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to increase their capacity to apply an intersectional gender and diversity lens to their policies, plans and operations. Further, WAGE participates in discussions initiated by these departments, who are working together on issues of mutual concern. WAGE also currently has an agreement with the Centre for Intercultural Learning (CIL) at Global Affairs Canada to deliver GBA+ training to federal government organizations upon request, and internationally.

WAGE is leading the implementation of Canada’s Strategy to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence (Canada’s GBV Strategy), in which DND/CAF and the RCMP are partners. WAGE is also supporting Action Plan lead partners on internal cultural change initiatives geared to increasing the number of women able to deploy in support of peace operations. Specifically:

WAGE also works closely with GAC in preparing for and in negotiating the Agreed Conclusions of the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, which includes advancing the Government of Canada’s position on WPS.

Activity #1

Women and Gender Equality Canada works with the RCMP and DND/CAF to help them develop their internal capacity to apply GBA+ to their policies, plans and programs in support of their culture change initiatives. This has included the collaborative development of advanced GBA+ training for policy personnel.

Completed Activities

WAGE works regularly with RCMP and DND/CAF on the development of approaches to GBA+ in the context of their internal policies, programs and plans including through the GBA+ Interdepartmental Clusters, where they are encouraged to share experience and resources among departments. In February 2017, the RCMP and DND/CAF collaborated with WAGE, the Centre for Intercultural Learning and five other operational organizations in the design and implementation of advanced GBA+ training for the security and defence sector.

From July 2017 to March 2018, WAGE also partnered with Government of Canada uniformed agencies, including CAF and RCMP, providing expertise on how GBA+ can be applied to the modernization of uniforms. Through guidance and strategic mapping, this working group of Government of Canada uniformed agencies used GBA+ to develop shared principles for improving uniform policy in support of a more inclusive workforce representative of their members.

Results and Progress

Following the advanced GBA+ training delivered to seven security and defense agencies in February 2017 (noted above), all federal departments have been invited to use the materials as desired to develop their own training, and/or to collaborate with other operational organizations in joint delivery.

The initial work on uniform modernization noted above has resulted in regular and ongoing work by the departments and agencies involved. Currently led by the Canadian Coast Guard, the group is exploring other areas of shared interest including procurement. What began as an idea just over a year ago operationalized into a vibrant working group and an initiative that has the potential to transform uniform policies for years to come, to include Canadians of all genders, sexualities, abilities and other intersectionalities.

Activity #2

Women and Gender Equality Canada is also working with various partners (including the RCMP and DND/CAF) on initiatives to address gender-based violence, including participating in the development of a new federal regime to ensure federal workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence.

Completed Activities

To support federal coordination and accountability for Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Gender Based Violence Knowledge Centre’s online platform was launched on December 10, 2018.

Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (Harassment and Violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, received Royal Assent on October 25, 2018. This bill introduced key changes to ensure that employers are required to take steps to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and violence, and offer support to affected employees, including those in federally regulated workplaces, the federal public service, parliamentary workplaces, and political staff.

Results and Progress

The GBV Strategy reached its second anniversary on June 19, 2019. The 2018-19 Annual Report - A Year in Review - which includes the achievements of both funded and unfunded federal partners, can be accessed on the GBV Knowledge Centre’s online portalFootnote 1. Some of the progress achieved includes:

A performance measurement framework was developed to monitor the progress/impact of the GBV Strategy. The framework includes results that align with the 3 pillars of the Strategy and structured according to 2 themes: knowledge and interventions.  The performance indicators for the full strategy are included in the 2019-20 Departmental Plan (Horizontal Initiatives Table). The common baselines for some indicators are expected to be established in 2019-20.

Activity #3

Women and Gender Equality Canada is also supporting the RCMP in reviewing current gender- and culturally-sensitive training policies for federal front-line law enforcement officers to ensure that they are strong and effective and in building GBA+ capacity, in keeping with additional commitments outlined in the mandate letter of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality.

Completed Activities

WAGE supported the RCMP to strengthen its gender-and culture-related training by facilitating their engagement with the Minister’s Gender-Based Violence Advisory Council and the Deputy Minister’s Indigenous Women’s Circle.

Results and Progress

The RCMP is designing and developing two training courses that will be delivered to RCMP employees over a three-year period, starting in 2019-20. The courses: “Developing Cultural Awareness and Humility” and “Using a Trauma-Informed Approach”, will improve capacity across the RCMP to effectively respond to GBV, in a gender and culturally sensitive manner. This includes violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Activity #4

Women and Gender Equality Canada also works closely with Global Affairs Canada in preparing for and in negotiating the agreed conclusions of the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, which includes advancing the Government of Canada’s position on WPS.

Completed Activities

The negotiations of the Agreed Conclusions for the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) were co-led by officials from GAC and WAGE.

Throughout the negotiations, Canada engaged constructively to prevent the roll-back of previously agreed language, while striving for inclusion of progressive language on harmful practices, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting, violence against women and girls, strengthening women’s political participation at all levels, engaging men and boys, the recognition of SRHR as an important component of gender equality, women human rights defenders, the diversity of all women and girls, and ending multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including that faced by Indigenous women and girls.

The Agreed Conclusions were adopted by the Commission on Friday, March 22, 2019.

Results and Progress

In advance of and throughout the negotiations, Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) conveyed their views that the Agreed Conclusions should contain strong language and references to a number of items, including: Indigenous women and girls, sexual and reproductive health and rights, comprehensive sexuality education, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, women human rights defenders, women’s rights organizations, gender-based violence, climate change, migration and migrant women, social protection, public services, sustainable infrastructure, unpaid care and domestic work, and equal pay for work of equal value.

On balance, the Agreed Conclusions reflected a positive outcome with advances on a number of Canadian priorities, while holding the line on difficult-to-negotiate items such as sexual and reproductive health and rights. Positive language was secured with respect to non-discrimination, Indigenous women and girls, violence and harmful practices, and women’s leadership, among other priorities. Canada was asked by the facilitator to lead a sub-group to find consensus on language pertaining to migration. Canada also worked with others to hold the line on advances made in 2018 on items such as sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, despite opposition from numerous delegations.

No stand-alone resolutions were tabled this year.

Of note, WAGE provided funding to support the participation of Canadian CSOs as well as National Indigenous Leaders and Representatives to attend the UNCSW meeting to provide their expertise to the Canadian delegation.

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