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:
- enhancing GBA Plus training and capacity in key sectors across government;
- convening ‘clusters’ of like-minded departments to promote information-sharing and collaboration among members in order to support sustainable GBA Plus implementation across the federal government;
- increasing accountability, monitoring, and reporting through the collection and analysis of detailed GBA Plus reports from all departments and by developing a more robust monitoring framework; and,
- increasing the availability of gender-disaggregated data and gender-based research to inform rigours GBA Plus.
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:
- Need for greater understanding of intersectional GBA Plus that reflects multiple social identity factors
- Capacity resources and tools are not sufficient in certain contexts
- Lack of clarity of WAGE’s role in some mandatory processes (e.g., MCs, TB submissions)
- Limited monitoring of the impacts of GBA Plus
- Without a senior-level decision-making body, coordination and alignment across departments remains overly siloed
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:
- Strengthen Quality and Rigour: A consistent, rigorous and intersectional GBA plus methodology to align different “lenses” all government business
- Increase Capacity: A competent network of GBA Plus experts working across the federal public service and functional areas
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.
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:
- WAGE supported Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, Jacqueline O’Neill, for her appearance before the House Committee on National Defence on October 26, 2020. The Committee discussed GBA Plus, with the Ambassador noting the importance of GBA Plus to the CAF’s institutional and operational progress, as GBA Plus is applied to policies, procurement and operations.
- On August 26, 2020, WAGE’s GBA Plus Champion participated in a panel discussion organized by Veteran’s Affairs Canada’s new Office of Women and LGBTQ2 Veterans. The goal of the panel was to highlight the ongoing efforts to work collaboratively on common issues impacting women and defence.
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.
- WAGE collaborated with the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University to develop a specific public service version of their ‘Make It Our Business’ training which addresses domestic violence in the workplace. The training outlines how supervisors, managers, human resources professionals, union representatives, and co-workers can recognize signs of domestic violence in an intimate partner relationship, respond to domestic violence, and refer victims, survivors and abusers to supports that offer help
- There is ongoing engagement between WAGE and the Canada School of Public Service with respect to training for the public service especially in relation to domestic violence.
- WAGE collaborated with Statistics Canada to develop a new national survey on experiences of gender-based violence in the workplace.
Results and Progress:
- The ‘Make It Our Business’ training was pilot tested at WAGE in 2020-21 and is a now a useful tool for Federal Government employees to recognize signs of domestic violence. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic era due to increased rates of domestic violence and isolation with perpetuators caused by working from home.
- WAGE worked closely with the Canada School of the Public Service to develop the domestic violence components of the Canada School of Public Services’ online training modules on harassment and violence in the workplace. Discussions are also underway with the National Manager’s Community – which includes representatives from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer at Treasury Board – with a view to distributing resources to Government Canada managers on domestic violence as a workplace issue.
- The national survey on experiences of gender-based violence in the workplace provides data that will help determine whether certain groups of people are targeted by, or at higher risk to, unwanted sexual behaviours at work. Factors to be explored include gender, sexual orientation, industry of work, socioeconomic status, immigration and citizenship, ethnic ancestry, Indigenous identity and disability. Data collection for the Survey on Sexual Misconducts at Work began in 2020.
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.
- WAGE supported the RCMP to strengthen its gender-and culture-related training. More specifically, WAGE provided advice on the development of the following:
- Cultural Awareness and Humility training for the RCMP
- Consent Law and Common Sexual Assault Myths course, Using a Trauma-Informed Approach course, Orientation for Divisional Coordinators, Sexual Assault Investigation Review Committee (SAIRC) Member Training, and the Sexual Offence Investigations course for the Sexual Assault Review Team
- WAGE has also supported the development and updating of the RCMP’s various educational materials that address gender-based violence, including: Sexual Assault Investigations Best Practices (launched in 2019-20, updated in 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.
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.
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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