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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 2019–2020

Table of contents


2018 Action for Peacekeeping
Arms Trade Treaty
Special Committee on UN Peacekeeping Operations
Child, early and forced marriage
United Nations Women Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence Network
Canada’s Integrated Conflict Analysis Process
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Canadian Police Arrangement
Canadian Police Mission in Ukraine
Countering radicalization to violence
Correctional Service of Canada
Civil-society organization
Countering violent extremism
Development Assistance Committee (OECD)
Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group
Department of National Defence
Democratic Republic of the Congo
European Union Advisory Mission
Female Engagement Teams
Global Affairs Canada
Gender-based violence
Generation Equality Forum
Human Rights Commission
Human rights defender
Interagency Standing Committee
Intergovernmental Authority on Development
Integrated Peace and Security Plan
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Indigenous Services Canada
Jordanian Armed Forces
Justice and security sector reform
Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, 2-spirited and intersex
2-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual plus
Monitoring, evaluation and learning
UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic
UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO Mission in Iraq
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
International Organization of la Francophonie
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
UN Peacebuilding Commission
Public Safety Canada
Peace and Stabilization Operations Program
Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Sexual exploitation and abusec
Sexual and gender-based violence
Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa
Commander of a Standing NATO Maritime Group
Sexual and reproductive health and rights
Security sector reform or security system reform
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations Institute for Training and Research
United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Secretary-General
Women and Gender Equality Canada
Women, peace and security
Women’s Voice and Leadership Program


This report is a summary of the 2019-2020 progress reports produced annually by federal partners of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and SecurityFootnote 1. The progress reports outline partners’ achievements toward meeting the objectives and targets outlined in the Action Plan and its accompanying implementation plans. This summary and the progress reports are tabled together in Parliament.

The year 2020 was to be a milestone year for progress toward realizing global commitments on gender equality and women, peace and security (WPS). It marked, 75 years since the creation of the United Nations, 25 years since the ground-breaking Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years since the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325, and five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Commitments were to be renewed, efforts redoubled.

Much progress toward these goals has been made. Yet, 2 decades since the adoption of landmark Resolution 1325, women still face exclusion from peace and political processes; the number of attacks against women peacebuilders, human rights defenders and humanitarians is on the rise; and racism, homophobia and violent misogyny continue to spread.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant global responses have made it clear that implementation of the WPS agenda is more important than ever. Hard-fought gains in advancing gender equality and inclusion have, in some instances, eroded in just a few months. Sexual and gender-based violence increased significantly, access to sexual and reproductive health care was limited, funding for women’s organizations was reallocated toward pandemic response, and economic insecurity grew. Despite these challenges, women were often at the frontlines of the pandemic response, including as health-care workers, community leaders and peacebuilders.

Canada took concerted steps to ensure that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic protected and advanced gender equality and human rights, and were informed by feminist principles. At home, measures included emergency funding for Indigenous communities and for organizations providing support services to those experiencing sexual and gender-based violence, including for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres.

Globally, Canada advocated for a COVID-19 response that took into account the differentiated needs and priorities of women and girls, and those of vulnerable groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, 2-spirit and intersex (LGBTQ2I) communities, refugees, persons with disabilities, and racialized communities, among others. In multilateral forums, the government worked to ensure that gender-responsive approaches and gender equality considerations were top of the agenda, including at the UN, NATO, OECD and in the G7 and G20. In response to the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in March 2020, Canada initiated the first joint statement by countries belonging to the 3 Groups of Friends of Women, Peace and Security; of Children and Armed Conflict; and of Protection of Civilians. This joint statement endorsed the UNSG’s call, highlighting the plight of civilian women and children and marginalized groups caught in armed conflicts and humanitarian crises. As global lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Emergencies, Canada spearheaded a joint statement on behalf of its 87 partner states, international organizations and NGOs. This statement advocated for the recognition of GBV services as life-saving and essential in all humanitarian responses to the pandemic.

Canada adjusted its conflict prevention and peacebuilding engagements to reflect COVID-19 realities. As a board member of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, Canada supported and provided new funding for the establishment of a COVID-19 emergency response window to channel support through women and women’s organizations in 30 fragile and conflict-affected states. Canada also worked with its programming partners to adjust project activities and timelines to address and mitigate pandemic impacts. In Afghanistan, for example, many partners adapted quickly with new or modified activities, including awareness-raising sessions on COVID-19, distribution of hygiene kits, and messaging on domestic violence. Together with co-chair Uruguay, Canada also launched its 2020 co-chair term of the global WPS Focal Points Network with a special session on the intersection of the WPS agenda and COVID-19 response.

In addition to these specific efforts to respond to the pandemic, Canada’s National Action Plan on the implementation of the UNSC WPS resolutions continued to guide the Government of Canada’s efforts both in Canada and abroad to advance peace and security objectives. The anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 was an opportunity to identify implementation gaps, develop new initiatives, further consolidate whole-of-government efforts on WPS, and improve coordination across the Action Plan’s 9 federal partners.

Over the period covered by this progress report, Canada strengthened its global leadership role on WPS through a number of important initiatives:

“Talking about increasing women's access to decision-making processes and positions not only aims at ensuring quantitative representation, but also achieving a clear qualitative leap in integrating women's issues into all development efforts and public policies ... we will create a strategy that will provide a clear path for us as women.”

- Najla Al-Amin Cody, participant in 1 of 6 women’s networks established through a project supported by Canada in Sudan, implemented by the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA).

“The existence of a gender equality network enables tangible advocacy for the issues of women and young women, and it is a real breakthrough toward achieving the goals of UN Security Resolution 1325, especially in the transitional period...”

- Rayan Bashir (who has a visual disability), participant in 1 of the 6 women’s networks established through the SIHA project in Sudan.

Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security: Her first year

In her first year, Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill helped reinforce several initiatives of Canadian diplomatic missions abroad. In a visit to Khartoum, she advocated for the meaningful inclusion of women and youth in transition processes following Sudan’s revolution, including in police and military reform. In Lebanon and Jordan, she helped build momentum among national governments to fully implement each country’s recently adopted national action plans on WPS. Accompanying Prime Minister Trudeau to Ethiopia and Senegal, Ambassador O’Neill represented Canada in meetings with the African Union and met with women peacekeepers. On all travels, Ambassador O’Neill ensured that she met with diverse women peacebuilders to hear directly from them about their priorities and perspectives to help better inform Canadian efforts.

Ambassador O’Neill also advanced Canada’s objectives through her participation in a number of multilateral forums. At the UN, she participated in 18 activities associated with the General Assembly, including as a speaker or moderator, and in 11 events at the UNSC, where she also delivered Canada’s national statement and a statement on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of WPS in the annual open debate on WPS in October 2019. At Egypt’s Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, she shared Canadian and global experiences related to WPS and sought to integrate attention to gender and women’s perspectives throughout the agenda.

Canada was the first country to appoint an ambassador dedicated to WPS. From the outset of her mandate, demand for the Ambassador’s time—from civil society, multilateral organizations, and governments—has been very high. This interest affirms that at home and abroad, there is great interest in deepening engagements and strengthening capacities to implement the full WPS agenda.

Canada worked assiduously to advance WPS in regional and multilateral forums:

Normative gains – despite ongoing challenges

UNSC Resolution 2493 (2019) served to standardize the phrasing women’s “full, equal and meaningful” participation in all stages of peace processes. It also recognized the importance of ensuring that “formal and informal community women leaders, women peacebuilders, political actors, and those who protect and promote human rights” are able to carry out their work safely and without interference.

Domestically, Canada worked to apply the WPS agenda and feminist principles to a number of new initiatives:

Finally, Canada assumed a number of new leadership responsibilities in 2020 and launched initiatives that will strengthen the government’s ability to drive change globally:

The Government of Canada is deeply grateful for the continued guidance provided by Indigenous and civil-society partners through the Advisory Group for its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This group enables the government to stay informed of civil-society priorities, have access to its expertise, and to improve its programming and policies accordingly. The government thanks its co-chair, the Women, Peace and Security Network-Canada, for its tireless engagement and vital contributions to improve the implementation of Canada’s Action Plan.

It is with renewed resolve that the government continues its efforts in collaboration with all of its partners toward the full implementation of the WPS agenda and Canada’s National Action Plan.


Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2017-2022 calls for a government-wide approach to improving security, promoting gender equality, preventing conflict and building sustainable peace. It aims to ensure a coherent response to the needs identified in the WPS agenda and to advance the agenda together with Canadian and international partners. The Action Plan is central to Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy.

While the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 in 2020 offered opportunities to celebrate progress, global trends underline the need for renewed efforts:

Women peacebuilders and human rights defenders under attack

At the end of 2019, Somali-Canadian women’s rights activist and aid worker Almaas Elman was shot and killed in Mogadishu, a few hours after she had posted on social media about her sister’s speech at the United Nations on the importance of reconciliation.

In this context, 2 new WPS resolutions were adopted in 2019,Footnote 7 bringing the total to 10 UNSC resolutions centred on the importance of women’s human rights and their leadership in preventing and responding to conflict and crises. Yet, the level of implementation globally continues to lag.

This report and the attached departmental progress reports outline efforts to address some of these global implementation challenges and include achievements toward meeting the objectives and targets outlined in the Action Plan and departmental implementation plans to accelerate implementation of the WPS agenda during fiscal year 2019-20.

The tabling of this report, originally scheduled for September 2020, was delayed due to operational constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s commitments

These federal partners are responsible for implementing Canada’s Action Plan:

Canada’s National 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:

The above objectives apply to all of Canada’s efforts across development, diplomacy, humanitarian and peace and security interventions in all fragile and conflict-affected states, and to efforts within Canada related to these issues. Specific commitments toward these objectives are defined in the implementation plans for each Action Plan partner. CIRNAC and ISC adopted their joint implementation plan in April 2021.

The context: external and internal challenges

During the third year of the Action Plan, Canada faced both external and internal challenges to its implementation. Externally, on a global level, this included structural and cultural barriers to the meaningful participation of women and women’s organizations in peace and political processes, and pushback against the realization of women’s human rights. Internally, challenges included coordination and coherence across the large number of federal Action Plan partners. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wide range of new challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic occurred at the tail end of the reporting period, and was only starting to have an impact on Canadian programming and other efforts. One such effect was the difficult decision to repatriate many of Canada’s police officers from overseas peace operations missions, primarily due to postponement or cancellation of operations by host countries or partner agencies. However, many members continued aspects of their activities via teleworking, and while some delays oncurred, key relationships and deliverables were maintained.  Globally, to counter the increase in sexual and gender-based violence and redirection of resources to pandemic response efforts, Canada advocated for a response that protected gender equality and human rights, and worked to ensure that gender-responsive approaches and gender equality considerations were top of the agenda, including at the UN, NATO, OECD and in the G7 and G20. This included, for example, Canada initiating the joint statement by members the 3 UN-focused Groups of Friends of Women, Peace and Security; of Children and Armed Conflict; and of Protection of Civilians, in support of the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.

External challenges

Canada encountered notable difficulties in its efforts to advance the WPS agenda at the multilateral level, including at the UNSC, NATO and the OSCE. While member states generally expressed their support for the WPS agenda, resistance to certain aspects of it remained. For example, although there is clear consensus at NATO on the necessity of policies on issues such as SEA and conflict-related SGBV, the complexity of obtaining consensus on language can be a challenge. At the OSCE, the notion of “gender” creates deep divides along national lines, which, in a consensus-based decision-making model, sometimes results in the failure to adopt decisions that would have advanced WPS. In some cases, there was backtracking from previously agreed language. At the UN, references to, in particular, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) led to highly contentious negotiations around UNSCR 2467, and resulted in previously agreed SRHR language being left out of the text. This was the first WPS resolution that was not adopted by consensus.

Approximately 70% of UNSC resolutions in 2019 made reference to WPS, but only 1% of the Security Council’s discussion of country-specific situations included mention of women’s meaningful participation in peace and security processes.Footnote 8 Briefings by women civil-society representatives continued to increase in 2019, growing from 9 women in 2016 to 41 in 2019. Of those, the number presenting at country-specific meetings grew from 2 to 23 during the same period.Footnote 9 However, the upward trajectory was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the UNSC’s subsequent move to virtual meetings, with a reported 38.9% drop in total women civil-society briefers between January and June 2020. The trend was partly corrected during the second half of 2020, with a final number of 28 women civil-society briefers in 2020, 14 of whom presented at country-specific meetings.Footnote 10 This decrease is illustrative of the fragility of the structures supporting women’s participation. It is also important to note that civil-society briefers often take risks when sharing their perspectives publicly. In 2019, at least 3 civil-society briefers were harassed following their briefings at the Security Council.Footnote 11

Progress in the implementation of policy and programming is not necessarily linear, with progress often followed by setbacks. In Guatemala, for example, Canadian programming and diplomatic efforts have long focused on ensuring women’s access to justice for sexual and gender-based violence. Guatemala became an example to the world on transitional justice for women when in 2016 it delivered the first sentence in a national court for sexual violence and sexual and domestic slavery during an internal armed conflict in the Sepur Zarco case. Canada was among the donors that accompanied the Indigenous women who took the case to court, through project support and advocacy. Maintaining access to justice for this type of crime, however, has been challenging. In June 2019, a court dismissed the case of sexual violence committed against Achí women between 1981 and 1985, a case that Canada had helped these women to build through support to the local legal clinic.

Internal challenges

Internal factors also challenged the effective implementation of the Action Plan. Canada’s Action Plan is operationalized by 9 federal partners with their own, evergreen implementation plans. These plans allow for a wide and expanding reach both in Canada and internationally in implementing the WPS agenda. At the same time, the diversity in ministerial mandates, and ongoing learning considering the use and understanding of fundamental WPS concepts and feminist principles, highlighted the need to develop a common understanding of how the agenda applies to individual departmental objectives.

The use of departmental and program-level targets and indicators has increased partners’ ownership of the Action Plan, as compared to the first Action Plan, but the model requires a sustained focus that has proven difficult in the face of high staff turnover and competing priorities. Any multi-partner, multi-year endeavour is vulnerable to inconsistency in focus and efforts, but even more so when ministerial level commitments must translate into program-level implementation. Objectives and targets are not in all cases fully integrated into federal partners’ day-to-day work, at times creating a perception of the Action Plan as being an annual reporting exercise rather than a guiding strategic framework.

The Action Plan’s Advisory Group, co-chaired by the government and the Women, Peace and Security Network-Canada with participation from Indigenous organizations, has proven a highly useful forum for regular communication and—for the government—continued learning and opportunities to improve its work. However, this collaboration has also put the sometimes different organizational cultures to a test, and some members, including Indigenous organizations, have wanted to engage but found themselves short-staffed or over-consulted. The switch to online meetings in 2020, due to COVID-related restrictions, allowed for more flexibility in both participation and meeting format, enabling more diverse participation and dynamic discussions—important lessons learned for the future.

Demonstrating change through the annual progress report remained difficult, despite efforts to improve the implementation plans and reporting process. While some of the measurable results during the reporting period, such as the adoption of a piece of legislation, met the immediate or intermediate outcome levels in the Action Plan’s theory of change (see Annex C), most were mere outputs, such as “the number of trained persons”. In general, it is also rarely possible to directly attribute results to improved stability, security or the lived experience of beneficiaries.

The government has tried to address these challenges, including through the creation of a WPS Ambassador, strengthening the roles of WPS champions, increasing outreach to and coordination between departmental focal points, and providing additional training opportunities for government employees. For example, recognizing the extensive and complex nature of the Action Plan reporting process, the large number of new reporting focal points and the difficulties brought about by working from home during the pandemic, GAC as the coordinator, built upon best practices from previous fiscal years to ensure that focal points had adequate support. Further efforts to continuously improve upon these processes are under way.

The mid-term review of the Action Plan, delayed due to the 2019 federal election and subsequent delay in tabling of the 2018-19 Progress Report, will present another opportunity to surface and address internal challenges to Action Plan implementation. The review will be an occasion to further evaluate current practices and make additional improvements to the government’s ability to effectively deliver and demonstrate progress with Action Plan targets. This will include a closer look at objectives, targets and indicators, and how to strengthen leadership and ownership across the government at all levels.


Results for fiscal year 2019-20 (April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020) from Canada’s efforts to implement the Action Plan are found in the progress reports from each government implementing partner that complement this summary narrative. This section includes examples of those results.

Objective 1: Increase the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict state-building

Canada continued its support to conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution initiatives ranging from formal track one peace negotiations to supporting local conflict prevention, peacebuilding and mediation efforts. To address the continued underrepresentation of women in these processes, Canada increased efforts to support the inclusion of women in all their diversity, as well as youth, LGBTQ2I persons and marginalized groups. Examples of Canadian efforts from the past fiscal year include the following:

Women in leadership and political representation

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

Preventing conflict-related SGBV, ensuring accountability and supporting survivors remained a top priority for the government as these violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law remain unacceptably high worldwide. This also held true for addressing SEA by peacekeepers and international assistance personnel who are entrusted to protect the most vulnerable. During the reporting period:

“Stop fuelling conflict … we implore all countries to stop the export of arms to my country when there is a risk that they will be used in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, including to perpetrate sexual and gender-based violence, in line with the Arms Trade Treaty.Footnote 13

- Sudanese student and activist Alaa Salah, speaking to the Security Council at the 2019 annual debate on women, peace and security.

Getting to the root of conflict: Canada’s Integrated Conflict Analysis Process

To ensure that Canada’s interventions are efficient, strategic and address the root causes of conflict and violence, in 2019, Canada introduced the Integrated Conflict Analysis Process (CICAP) and Integrated Peace and Security Plan (IPSP). The CICAP is a participatory process led by GAC’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program that enables key Government of Canada stakeholders to develop a common understanding of the conflict drivers and opportunities for peace within a specific country. Findings are used to develop an IPSP, which outlines Canada’s overall peace and security objective for that specific country, as well as the key lines of effort and entry points to guide Canadian engagement. During the reporting period, CICAPs and IPSPs were completed for Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Myanmar. New CICAPs and IPSPs were also initiated for Ukraine, Colombia and South Sudan. Efforts were made to ensure that the processes were gender-responsive, with new guidance developed to enhance the application of GBA Plus and integration of the WPS agenda. Each of the completed CICAPs identified several conflict and fragility drivers unique to each country, with gender inequality found to be deeply entrenched in all cases, as demonstrated, for example, by the low numbers of women in leadership positions in formal security, police, military and justice structures and institutions, and impunity of police and security forces’ crimes against women.

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

Women’s and girls’ empowerment and the protection of their human rights are at the core of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy and its Feminist International Assistance Policy, and are necessary for their ability to participate fully in peace and security efforts. Violations and abuses of their human rights, patriarchal structures and a lack of adequate funding for women’s rights organizations, among other things, remain urgent issues requiring action in order to achieve progress toward more inclusive, equal and stable societies. Results in the Action Plan’s third year under this theme include the following:

“During these 2 and half years of the women, peace and security project, I have learnt what my rights are, how to claim and protect them. I am now a trainer in my community, educating other women of their human rights.”

- Marie Jeanne Bushosi, beneficiary of the Women of Courage project in South Kivu, the DRC.

Working together: Groups of Friends of WPS

Groups of Friends of WPS, donor groups on gender, and similar groups provide opportunities for Canada to coordinate its programming efforts and positions with other actors, learn from civil-society experts, and conduct joint advocacy to advance the WPS agenda in multilateral forums and on the ground.

“During a lobby visit to Geneva that I did with other women human rights defenders and peacebuilders from the MENA region, the Canadian mission organized a closed meeting for us with the U.S., Norway and others in the WPS Group of Friends. This secured us access to government representatives during a very busy season for them, and allowed us to share our recommendations.”

- Rasha Jarhum, Peace Track Initiative At the OSCE, Canada helped to advance gender and WPS issues through several different groups, including the Network of Women Ambassadors and the Women in the First Dimension Network. The latter was created by a group of OSCE diplomats, including from Canada, to address the under-representation of women diplomats on security and politico-military issues (the first dimension of the OSCE), and on OSCE panels, where women mostly appear for WPS-themed discussions. The network’s first action was to provide, to the Chair of the Forum for Security Cooperation, a list of qualified women experts in the security field who could be invited as speakers.

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

In the face of the pushback by certain governments against SRHR, Canada renewed its efforts to promote gender-responsive humanitarian assistance and sexual and reproductive health services through increased levels of funding and intensified advocacy. Throughout the reporting period, efforts included:

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

To address the continued low numbers of women deployed to peace operations, Canada continued implementation of the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, the deployment of Canadian military and police officers to key positions in peace and stabilization missions, including as gender advisors, and helped to increase the meaningful participation of women and advance the integration of the WPS agenda in these missions and in national security forces:

“As a commander, my decisions and our actions were influenced by extremely talented and professional key female officers/senior NCOs in vital positions of influence. Our strength was this diversity.”

- Colonel Chris McKenna, Commander Canadian Armed Forces Task Force Mali, at the Forum for Security Cooperation, October 2, 2019

Improving the Government of Canada’s capacity to implement the Action Plan

Action Plan partners have set a number of targets to improve their own capacity to implement the Action Plan objectives, including on WPS training, improved integration of GBA Plus and gender equality programming, and the development of resources and expertise:

“The NATO Mission in Iraq continues to be successful in terms of women, peace and security, and I am quite pleased with the progress DND/CAF has made here on the ground. Collaboration with like-minded nations has been strengthened, with a high point being our partnership with the EUAM Iraq in organizing and conducting a high-level conference discussing how to advance the WPS agenda and overcome the obstacles between the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior. Conferences and training opportunities such as these open the door for more in-depth discussion surrounding WPS and how we can help people, specifically women and children, in the area.”

- Canada’s Major Carl Nielsen, NMI Gender Advisor

Gender Advisors – what for?

Canada deploys and/or funds gender advisors to peace and stabilization missions and international organizations to provide subject matter expertise and impact operational and strategic planning. As they often interface with partners, government and NGOs, and civil-society stakeholders, the gender advisor positions can also be key in ensuring proper engagements in support of gender and WPS efforts by host governments and other actors. One consistent challenge is that these positions are often staffed outside of regular budgets and staffing structures, posing a risk to the sustainability of these efforts.

Conclusion and next steps

While considerable progress was made during the reporting period toward achieving the Action Plan objectives, challenges persisted, including ensuring that Action Plan objectives and WPS principles are fully integrated into the Government of Canada’s policies, programs and interventions. While the COVID-19 pandemic only began to show its impact on programming and policies at the end of the reporting period, as the pandemic took hold, it created new challenges and exposed and exacerbated others, including structural gender inequalities.

Efforts were made to address the areas outlined in last year’s report as requiring further attention, including an enhanced focus on addressing intersectional experiences of marginalization, discrimination and violence that affect, for example, Indigenous women and girls and LGBTQ2I persons. Meanwhile, attention is still required to develop an enhanced, common understanding among implementing government partners of gender, fundamental WPS principles and a feminist approach in the context of implementing the Action Plan. It will be important to draw on these lessons in the process of implementing Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, including with respect to the development of appropriate tools, resources and guidance.

The new WPS Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill and her office improved the government’s capacity to maintain leadership in advancing the WPS agenda, and to safeguard it against attempts to backtrack from previously made gains. Ambassador O’Neill’s efforts also allow Canada to further its ambition, including to expand the Action Plan’s reach at home.

The mid-term review, scheduled to take place in fiscal year 2019-20, was delayed due to the 2019 federal election and the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now under way. It will provide an additional opportunity for analysis and further improvement of the Action Plan to ensure that implementing partners shape their efforts to achieve optimal results.

Canada and Uruguay have agreed to extend their co-chair term of the WPS Focal Points Network into 2021. This ensures stable leadership of the Network during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada will continue to shape this Network as a progressive forum for the WPS community to:

Canada’s new leadership roles in the GEF Feminist Movements and Leadership Action Coalition and Compact for Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action are opportunities to focus on advancing women’s leadership and addressing the persistent barriers to their full, equal and meaningful participation in peace and security efforts.

Canada’s new UNSCR 1325 anniversary initiatives will allow the government to address other critical gaps in the implementation of the WPS agenda, specifically, the lack of recognition and adequate financial support for the vital contributions that women peacebuilders make to peace and security, and the need to better protect them against the threats and violence they face.

Finally, the recent protests around the world against systemic racism, as well as the documented increase in sexual and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, have furthered the government’s understanding of the root causes of discrimination and violence, which occur in conflict and in peace, and the commonality of addressing racism and advancing the WPS agenda, at home and abroad.

In its continued efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Action Plan, the government will in particular seek to achieve a broader recognition of the impact of patriarchy, positive and harmful masculinities and the legacy of colonialism, and how these can be addressed through the Action Plan and a feminist approach.

Annex A: Tracking of International Assistance Investments to advance Women, Peace and Security

Background: While there is no internationally agreed method to track international assistance investments to advance WPS, Canada has developed a methodology to track WPS spending that builds on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) approach to capturing international assistance spending allocated to advancing gender equality in fragile states. This method is based on a combination of OECD-DAC purpose codes,Footnote 14 Global Affairs Canada’s gender equality (GE) codes,Footnote 15 and a list of fragile and conflict-affected states created using 3 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: Based on this method, preliminary reporting demonstrates that GAC disbursed approximately $679 million to projects advancing the WPS agenda in 2019-20, as compared to $497 million in 2018-19, $408 million in 2017-18, and $221 million the year prior, before the second Action Plan’s adoption. The 2019-20 figures stem from 261 projects that fully integrated gender considerations (GE-02) and from 127 projects that aimed to advance gender equality (GE-03).

In the Action Plan’s countries of focus, GAC disbursed the following amounts to WPS programming:

Below is a breakdown of GAC’s programming disbursements broadly aligned with the Action Plan’s 5 main objectives. Some objectives capture a much broader range of issues than others, which is reflected in the funding amounts.

While the total amount of WPS funding increased substantially from the previous fiscal year, a decrease appeared in 3 main objectives. It is important to note that these amounts represent disbursements made throughout the life cycle of a project, which may explain fluctuations in funding levels year to year. Many projects also contribute substantially to more than 1 objective, and their alignment for reporting purposes under the principal objective can also create shifts that under-report actual funding to complementary objectives. Lastly, the numbers reflect only the international assistance programming by GAC, and are thus not reflective of all of the Government of Canada’s funding investments to implement the Action Plan.

  1. Gender-responsive peacebuilding, peacemaking, and post-conflict state-building, including support to women and women’s groups working on peace-related issues: $21.8 million in 2019-20 as compared to $24.5 million in 2018-19, and $27 million in 2017-18, representing a decrease of 12% over the previous fiscal year.
  2. Prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, including ending impunity and providing services to survivors, and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse: $ 50.4 million in 2019-20 as compared to $55.7 million in 2018-19, and $60.4 million in 2017-18, representing a decrease of 9.5% over the previous fiscal year.
  3. 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: $205 million in 2019-20 as compared to $130 million in 2018-19, and $106.3 million in 2017-18, representing a significant increase of 57.5% over the previous fiscal year.
    1. Advancing gender equality in humanitarian settings: $170 million in 2019-2020 as compared to $100 million in 2018-19, $100.7 million in 2017-18, representing a significant increase of 70% over the previous fiscal year.
    2. Sexual and reproductive health and rights in fragile, conflict-affected states and humanitarian settings: $ 222.6 million in 2019-20, as compared to $ 160.9 million in 2018-19, and $113 million in 2017-18, representing an increase of 38.3% over the previous fiscal year.
  4. Strengthening the capacity of peace operations to advance WPS: $9.2 million in 2019-20 as compared to $25.5 in 2018-19 and $664,000 in 2017-18, representing a decrease of 63% over the previous fiscal year.

Annex B: Definitions

These definitions are formulated and compiled to help readers understand the terms as they are used in the Action Plan and progress reports.

Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM): The term “child marriage” refers to a marriage in which at least 1 of the parties is a child. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is “every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. “Early marriage” is often used interchangeably with “child marriage” and refers to marriages involving a person aged below 18 in countries where the age of majority is attained earlier or upon marriage. Early marriage can also refer to marriages where both spouses are 18 or older but other factors make them unready to consent to marriage, such as their level of physical, emotional, sexual and psychosocial development, or a lack of information regarding the person’s life options. A forced marriage is any marriage that occurs without the full and free consent of 1 or both of the parties and/or where 1 or both of the parties is/are unable to end or leave the marriage, including as a result of duress or intense social or family pressure.

(Source: The April 2014 report on Preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) refers to the process of disarming soldiers or other fighters, disbanding their military units, and helping them integrate socially and economically into society by finding them civilian livelihoods.

Fragility is characterized as the accumulation and combination of risks combined with insufficient capacity by the state, system and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate its consequences. This situation of exposure to risk can lead to negative outcomes, including violence, armed conflict, protracted political crises and chronic underdevelopment. Risks and coping capacity are measured in 5 dimensions to include political, societal, security, economic and environmental aspects. (Source: the OECD)

Gender refers to the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society may construct or consider appropriate for men and women. It can result in stereotyping and limited expectations about what women and men can and cannot do (e.g. femininity and masculinity). Gender is different from sex, which refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men, women and intersex persons.

Gender equality refers to equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women, men and gender-diverse people. Equality refers to the state of being equal while equity refers to the state of being just, impartial or fair. However, equality of opportunity by itself does not guarantee equal outcomes for women, men and gender-diverse people.

Gender mainstreaming means ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities, such as policy, programming and advocacy, and in all phases: planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) is an analytical tool used by the Government of Canada to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA Plus acknowledges that the analysis goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are; GBA Plus also considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age and mental or physical disability. The Government of Canada committed to using gender-based analysis in 1995, as part of the ratification of the United Nations’ Beijing Platform for Action.

Gender-responsive policies or programs are developed with the consideration of gender norms, roles and inequalities with measures taken to actively address them.

Gender-sensitive indicates a cognitive awareness of gender differences, but appropriate action may not have been taken. However, the terms gender-responsive and gender-sensitive are often used interchangeably.

Gender-transformative interventions go beyond gender responsiveness and specifically aim at transforming unequal gender relations to promote shared power, control of resources, decision making, and support for women’s and girls’ empowerment.

Justice and security sector reform (JSSR)security sector reform (SSR) or security system reform (SSR) refers to reforming or rebuilding a state’s security-sector to establish effective, accountable and representative security institutions that carry out their legitimate functions in a manner consistent with democratic norms and sound governance (i.e. good security sector governance). The term “security sector/system” includes the military, police and other institutions such as border management and correctional services, the judiciary and legislative oversight bodies. SSR is an important part of post-conflict state-building.

Multiple and intersecting discrimination: Individuals have layered identities based on intersecting identity factors such as gender, ethnicity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation and ability. The discrimination they face is multidimensional and its various components cannot be addressed separately.

Sexual abuse is the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. All sexual activity with a child is considered as sexual abuse. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defence.

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence perpetrated against someone based on their gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. Specifically, GBV includes any act of violence or abuse that can result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering. It affects every society and every social class and occurs in both private and public life. Whether the context is the use of rape as a tool of war, sex trafficking, intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation, or other forms, GBV is a violation of human rights in all cases. It is a disempowering force that erodes a person’s self-dignity, health and ability to participate in social, economic and political life. GBV is a barrier to gender equality, sustainable development and peace. GBV is rooted in gender inequalities and is intensified by other forms of discrimination, including racism, colonialism, disability, homophobia, transphobia and poverty. It is often exacerbated in conflict settings.

Sexual violence is a prevalent type of GBV. Sexual violence in conflict includes rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy and forced sterilization or abortion. The international legal framework clearly establishes that rape and other forms of sexual violence may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Many states have laws that punish these acts, either as the specified crimes or as ordinary crimes under national law. The International Criminal Court in The Hague will in some instances have jurisdiction. Some international treaties and, arguably, customary international law, oblige states to either prosecute or extradite persons who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The international regime and many states agree that amnesty cannot be granted for these serious violations of international law.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) include:

Sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Measures include criminal prosecutions, truth and reconciliation commissions, reparations programs and various kinds of institutional reforms.

Women’s and girls’ empowerment is about women and girls taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, gaining skills and developing self-reliance. Policies and programs can support these processes. Women and girls can be empowered, for instance, by establishing conditions in which women can decide about the use of resources and income (economic empowerment); have access to good quality education (social empowerment), and can participate in political life (political empowerment).

Annex C: Theory of Change for Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2017-2022

Discover Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2017-2022 - Theory of change

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