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2019-2020 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

The Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) celebrated its first anniversary as an official Department of the Government of Canada on December 13, 2019. This change from agency to department modernized and formalized, in law, the roles of the Minister and the Department - to support the advancement of gender equality as a central priority for the Government of Canada through policy, programming, funding, and research, and to coordinate such efforts across the federal government.

WAGE acts as a Centre for Excellence on Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus), 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 Plus 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.

As such, WAGE provides technical advice, guidance, and assistance on key Government of Canada initiatives related to gender equality issues, to ensure that all plans, programs and/or initiatives and peace support operations are responsive to gender and intersectional considerations.

WAGE also provides expertise in the area of gender-based violence (GBV). Launched in 2018, the GBV Knowledge Centre online platform has become an invaluable resource on GBV for CNAP partner departments, external partners, educators and civil society organizations. As the focal point of the Canada’s Gender-Based Violence Strategy, the Knowledge Centre facilitates the alignment of existing federal resources, coordinates new federal initiatives, supports the sharing of research and data, ensures alignment with provincial and territorial strategies, and accounts publicly for results.

Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Role and Approach to Gender-based Analysis Plus

Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) is the lead for the implementation of the Government’s commitment to apply GBA Plus. Progress resulting from the government’s GBA Plus Action Plan for 2016-2020 included new requirements for GBA Plus in Cabinet proposals; the establishment and strengthening of networks; the launch of GBA Plus implementation surveys to gauge progress in implementation; and enhanced GBA Plus training and tools. A review of progress and the impact of activities is underway, and consideration will be given to the development of additional training and tools to ensure GBA Plus is applied across government, at all levels. The Government also directed that GBA Plus be integrated into Departmental Results Frameworks, Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, to strengthen its ability to monitor the impact of GBA Plus on government programs, policies and initiatives. The Government has also directed that GBA Plus be integrated into the design and conduct of future government consultations, and guidance to this effect is being created in partnership with the Privy Council Office. In addition, Budget 2019 moved GBA Plus even further, reflecting concerted efforts to incorporate GBA Plus in the policy development process and to make the Government’s analysis available to Canadians.

Specifically, the GBA Plus 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 Plus across government, including:

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), 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. WAGE also currently has an agreement with the Centre for Intercultural Learning (CIL) at Global Affairs Canada to deliver GBA Plus training to federal government organizations upon request, and internationally. WAGE is also 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 the 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.

WAGE also collaborates with all supporting and implementing CNAP partners in the development and participation in events, discussions and learning sessions of mutual concern to ensure continued progress in the application of GBA Plus.

Impacts of COVID-19 on CNAP activities

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges in Canada and throughout the world, particularly for at-risk populations. While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, at the tail end of the CNAP reporting period, resulted in adjustments of some the planned activities, WAGE acknowledges the critical importance of continuing to apply a gendered and intersectional lens in addressing this pandemic, and is therefore ensuring that robust GBA Plus is applied to response measures. WAGE will work with its CNAP partners to continue to assess and report on the potential COVID-19 impacts on women, peace and security policies, programs and initiatives on the full diversity of people and communities in Canada by applying GBA Plus, which accounts for intersecting identity factors and experiences and helps ensure more equitable outcomes for everyone.

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

Briefed Public Safety’s National Security Transparency Advisory Group on the role of GBA Plus in national security and in their work.

Co-led a symposium on GBA Plus and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, with GAC and the Women, Peace and Security Network (Canada).

Moderated a panel on ‘Unpacking the Plus in National Security’ for the Public Safety-led expert symposium on Addressing Unconscious Bias, Diversity, and Inclusion in National Security.

Participated in a Veterans Affairs Canada/National Defence panel on the requirements of serving and retired military women. This public event highlighted the importance of GBA Plus in CAF medical policies and procedures and in VAC policies and assessment tools, and the downstream negative impacts on military women of failing to use GBA Plus. GBA Plus was also highlighted as a significant tool to enable culture change.

Informed the development of the tools and methodology for Public Safety-led Working Group on Bias Sensitivity, Diversity and Inclusion in National Security.

Worked with CSIS to develop scenario-based GBA Plus training for analysts and operatives to demonstrate how to apply GBA Plus to their work.

Results and Progress

WAGE has been working closely with the Public Safety-led Bias Sensitivity, Diversity and Identity Working Group (BSDI WG, formerly GBA Plus in National Security Working Group). Both the RCMP and DND/CAF are members, as are 13 other departments with national security-related mandates. GBA Plus is central to the approach being taken by the WG. The objective of the WG is to mainstream GBA Plus into all policies, procedures and activities (operational and corporate) of the national security departments and agencies. The WG is developing tools and training tailored specifically for this community, in consultation with WAGE.

The scenario-based training developed with CSIS will be adapted by the BSDI WG for use by other departments in the national security community.

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

In 2019-20, WAGE continued to operationalize the Knowledge Centre (KC) and the online platform, launched in December 2018. As the focal point of the GBV Strategy, the KC facilitates the alignment of existing federal resources, coordinates new federal initiatives, supports the sharing of research and data, ensures alignment with provincial and territorial strategies, and accounts publicly for results.

In 2019-20, the RCMP completed the design and development of the training course “Using a Trauma-Informed Approach”, which is accessible to all RCMP employees. The following courses were also developed: Consent and Common Sexual Assault Myths, Orientation for Divisional Coordinators [Sexual Assault Investigations Review Committee (SAIRC)] Course, and SAIRC Member Training. The RCMP has developed the following educational materials: the Sexual Assault Investigations Best Practice Guide, the Common Sexual Assault Investigational Gaps Guide, and the Guide for Contacting Victims of Sexual Assault, and is in the process of updating its sexual assault policy.

Results and Progress

WAGE continues to collaborate with Statistics Canada on three national surveys to gather much needed data and information on GBV in public and private spaces, post-secondary environments, and workplaces.  Surveys completed in 2019-20 include the following:

The RCMP has reviewed over 30,000 sexual assault case files and continues to use what was learned from this review to strengthen police training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support, and public education and communication.

Through the Preventing Gender-Based Violence: The Health Perspective Investment, the Public Health Agency of Canada supported 34 projects focusing on preventing teen dating violence and child maltreatment, in addition to equipping professionals to prevent and respond safely to gender-based-violence.  In 2019-2020, these projects directly reached 4,464 participants and 3,165 professionals in 80 sites across Canada, including schools, community centres, social service agencies, sports and recreation organizations, and sexual assault centres. Funded projects collaborated with more than 330 partners. These collaborative relationships enhanced the reach of project activities and leveraged more than $1.98 million in financial and in-kind contributions.

The Teen Dating Violence Community of Practice (CoP), led by the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), supported the projects and the broader community with learning events and capacity building activities.  Through these activities, the Youth Dating Violence Community of Practice reached more than 189,000 professionals, researchers and service providers.

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.  Data collection is underway to report on results of the indicators in the performance measurement framework; a number of baselines/results are now available and will be published in the 2019-20 Departmental Results Report for WAGE.

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, which started 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.

Following its pilot in March 2020, the Cultural Awareness and Humility course will be available to Canada's other law enforcement and security agencies via the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) online portal. This course is designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness and strengthen the skills of RCMP employees and other Canadian law enforcement who work both directly and indirectly with different cultures. The two-hour online course presents terminology, diversity, aspects of history, and contexts for understanding social disparities and inequities from Canadian multicultural and Indigenous perspectives.

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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women was reformatted and limited to key virtual high-level meetings. On March 9th, 2020, the Commission held a procedural meeting and adopted the negotiated Political Declaration.

Results and Progress

Political Declaration: Canada played a key role in ensuring that the Political Declaration included specific mention of Indigenous women in a paragraph discussing uneven progress for women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, vulnerability, and marginalization. Human rights language was also further mainstreamed throughout the text, along with multiple references to “all” women and girls compared to the last Political Declaration at UNCSW 59. Further language on climate change and violence against women were also secured.

Multi-year Program of Work (MYPOW): Priority themes for Canada, including the elimination of violence against women and Climate Change, were included in the next MYPOW. For the first time, the MYPOW includes an explicit reference to human rights. In addition to the MYPOW, Canada, alongside other members of the Commission, also adopted two new resolutions:

It should be noted that for the first time, the MYPOW included an explicit reference to human rights.

Canada’s 64th Session of the UNCSW Country Statement

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the submission of Canada’s Country Statement was delayed. Canada submitted its country statement electronically on July 1, 2020, before the UNCSW 64 formally closed. The statement is normally delivered by Canada’s Head of Delegation in person during the session itself in March. The statement acknowledges the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we must continue to address both in Canada and abroad.

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