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2020-2021 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) officially became a 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, capacity building, resources and engagement related to GBA Plus among various stakeholders. One of WAGE’s key roles is to help build the capacity of federal departments and agencies in applying rigorous GBA Plus. This includes the development and provision of tools and training for use by all federal government employees, as well as 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 and GBA Plus mainstreaming, to ensure that all plans, programs and/or initiatives and peace support operations are responsive to GBA Plus considerations, including equity, diversity and inclusion at large.

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:

Continued progress has been made against each commitment contributing to effective networks and robust infrastructure post 2020. The process has been one of continuous improvement building on lessons learned, which include:

To ensure the Government of Canada has the rigorous tools required to deliver on commitments and advance equality, diversity and inclusion priorities, efforts will continue to build on progress and sustain momentum. Moving forward, the following have been identified as priority actions:

Enhance Governance and Accountability: Effective and inclusive governance, accountability and Transparency mechanisms.

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 COVID-19 pandemic continued to bring on unprecedented challenges in Canada and throughout the world. While activities during the 2020-2021 reporting period experienced some challenges and delays, WAGE continued to work with its CNAP partners to ensure that a robust application of GBA Plus was applied to its response measures and its activities to 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:

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

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 Working Group. The objective of the Working Group is to mainstream GBA Plus into all policies, procedures and activities (operational and corporate) of the national security departments and agencies. The Working Group is developing tools and training tailored specifically for this community, in consultation with WAGE.

Activities in 2020-21 to support collaborative work on GBA Plus have included:

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:

Results and Progress:

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:

Results and Progress:

WAGE participated in the consultations that advised the RCMP in the development of the Cultural Awareness and Humility course. The course was designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of RCMP employees and other Canadian law enforcement who work directly and indirectly with different cultures. The design of the Cultural Awareness and Humility course was completed and piloted in early 2020. As of March 25th, 2021, 52% of all RCMP employees have completed the course. The course was shared with Canada’s other law enforcement and security agencies via the Canadian Police Knowledge Network online portal.

WAGE provided support to the Sexual Assault Review Team (SART) at the RCMP in the development of several courses and reference guides for all RCMP employees and officers in order to reinforce the use of a trauma-informed approach and to promote an understanding of victims’ and survivors’ rights, consent law and the devastating effects of myths pertaining to sexual assaults. To date, four (4) courses have been developed and launched by the SART: the Consent Law and Common Sexual Assault Myths course, Using a Trauma Informed ApproachFootnote 1 course, Orientation for Divisional Coordinators (Sexual Assault Investigation Review Committee [SAIRC]; launched last fiscal year), and SAIRC Member Training (launched last fiscal year). A fifth course, the Sexual Offence Investigations course, is in the final stages of development.

Moreover, four (4) educational materials have been developed or updated: Sexual Assault Investigations Best Practices (launched in 2019-20, updated 2020-21), Guide for Contacting Victims of Sexual Assault (launched in 2019-20), Common Sexual Assault Investigational Gaps Guide, and guidance on the correct application of the UCR scoring code for the “unfounded” classification as it relates to sexual assault investigations. The SART also collaborated with the RCMP’s Depot Training Academy to update the sexual assault investigations scenario, and the updated scenario was introduced into Depot training in February 2020. WAGE is reviewing and providing feedback on the sexual offence investigator training program.

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:

WAGE led the Canadian delegation at the 65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) held from March 15-26, 2021. The session was largely virtual due to the ongoing travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results and Progress:

CSW65 Agreed Conclusions: Finalized on March 30, 2021, the Agreed Conclusions recognize that 2020 marked the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the women, peace and security agenda, and reaffirmed that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of peace processes is one of the essential factors for the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Canada was successful in securing strong language on two key priority areas: Indigenous women and girls and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. This year’s negotiations of the Agreed Conclusions were held virtually. The limitations of virtual negotiations arise in the absence of the usual back-of-the-room in person interactions that help reach consensus on more sensitive issues.

Canada’s 65th Session of the UNCSW Country Statement: Minister Monsef delivered Canada’s statement virtually on March 18th, 2021. She acknowledged the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 on women and girls and highlighted the importance of a feminist and intersectional response to the pandemic. She also recognized the important partnerships with grassroots feminist organizations in order to provide essential support to women and girls in these difficult times. Minister Monsef also underlined Canada’s participation in the Generation Equality Forum, including its role as a leader of the Feminist Movements and Leadership Action Coalition.

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