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Progress Report on Canada’s National Action Plan 2017-2022 for the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security Fiscal Year 2020-2021

Table of contents

Acronyms and initialisms

Arms Trade Treaty
Canadian Armed Forces
Canada Fund for Local Initiatives
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Canadian Legal Problems Survey
Canadian Police Arrangement
Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture
Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
Correctional Service Canada
Civil society organizations
Civil Society Platform on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance
National Defence
Fragile, conflict and post-conflict settings
Global Affairs Canada
GBA Plus
Gender-based Analysis Plus
Gender-based violence
Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation
International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
International Network on Conflict and Fragility
International Peace Institute
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Indigenous Services Canada
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and intersex
Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual, plus
Memorandum of understanding
Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO Mission in Iraq
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
United Nations Peacebuilding Commission
Peace Operations Training Institute
Public Safety Canada
Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Navy
Sexual Assault Review Team
Sexual exploitation and abuse
Sexual and gender-based violence
Sexual Misconduct Response Centre
Science, technology, engineering, mathematics
Troop and Police Contributing Countries
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial
UN Secretary-General
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Ukrainian Association of Women in Law Enforcement
Women and Gender Equality Canada
Women, Peace and Security
Women, Peace and Security Network of Canada
Women’s rights organizations
Women’s Voice and Leadership
Youth, Peace and Security


This report is a summary of the 2020-2021 progress reports produced annually by federal partners of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The progress reports outline partners’ achievements, progress and challenges toward meeting the objectives and targets outlined in the Action Plan and the accompanying departmental implementation plans. This summary and the progress reports are tabled together in Parliament annually.

This reporting year marked the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325—the founding resolution of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. The year also marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the fifth anniversary of the international community’s agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals. These anniversaries were an opportunity to reflect on progress and challenges, and served as a critical moment to build momentum from the last 2 decades of progress toward building a more inclusive, equal, peaceful and safer world.

Canada’s commitments for the anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Focus on women peacebuilders

Canada made new commitments to mark the anniversary of UNSCR 1325. These commitments were responsive to the calls by advocates and civil society to focus on addressing implementation gaps in the current agenda and, in particular, to meaningfully support the work of women peacebuilders. The WPS agenda would not exist without the hard work and commitment of women peacebuilders, and yet they are rarely represented in formal peace and security decision-making processes, receive inadequate funding for and recognition of their work, and are the targets of threats and violence. To address this, Canada committed to:

“Canada’s enduring commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda is grounded in the conviction that these issues are essential to a more equal and peaceful world. Today, and in the months and years to come, we are taking concrete action to break down the barriers to the agenda’s implementation and accelerate progress. Two decades after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women’s expertise in peace and security issues remains too often overlooked. The time to act is now, and Canada will continue to work closely with our international partners and civil society to ensure that these imperatives remain at the forefront of the global agenda.”

- François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325

While the milestone anniversary year of UNSCR 1325 was an opportunity for celebration, it also coincided with the unprecedented crisis and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted how much work remains to be done to achieve gender equality. Despite being on the frontlines of the pandemic, women also carried the extra burden of care responsibilities and increased economic hardship. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) was on the rise globally, raising concern about the impact of the pandemic on peace and security, as there is a strong link between gender inequality and increased risk of conflict.Footnote 2 In the 2020 UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Report on WPS to the Security Council, the UNSG warned that “the pandemic will have profound implications for international peace and security, including through the further marginalization of women in political decision-making, in particular where peace agreements are being negotiated or in countries undergoing political transitions.”Footnote 3

Last year, the world also witnessed the Taliban’s seizure of power and the overthrow of the legitimately elected government of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, which has led to a rolling back of Afghan women and girls’ rights and progress made toward the WPS agenda in Afghanistan over the past 2 decades. The Taliban have shuttered the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, women have been banned from most workplaces and restrictions on girls’ access to education have been introduced. The erasure of women from Afghanistan’s security institutions serves to undermine the hard-won progress made in engaging women in the police and military forces. Preserving these gains is a priority for Canada, and we are working to coordinate support for Afghan women and girls, including through engagement with partners in various governments, civil society organizations, and at the G7, G20, UN and beyond.

Another major issue that once again came into focus for Canadians this year was sexual misconduct in DND/CAF. This led to DND/CAF redoubling its efforts to enact culture change and meaningfully address and prevent all forms of misconduct, and support those who have been harmed. Although DND/CAF has made progress in its efforts to address sexual misconduct since Operation HONOUR was introduced in 2015, an underlying sexualized culture persists. With the conclusion of Operation HONOUR, the DND/CAF is working to identify lessons learned to better understand what has worked and what has not, and develop a deliberate and informed plan moving forward, including advancing several critical efforts and initiatives. In 2021, DND/CAF announced the creation of the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC), a new centre of expertise to unify, inform and coordinate culture change efforts across DND/CAF; commissioned an independent external comprehensive review of institutional policies, practices, procedures and culture in DND/CAF, led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour; and committed $236.2M in funding over 5 years to address sexual misconduct and SGBV in the military, and to support survivors.

Ensuring that everyone in DND/CAF is provided with a safe and inclusive workplace is a top priority for the institution. Across the organization, DND/CAF is prioritizing efforts that will build a better environment and improve the workplace experience of Defence Team members in the short term, while setting the conditions for long-term success.

In this year of unprecedented challenges, Canada also doubled down on its efforts to be a global leader in gender equality at home and abroad, including by taking on a leadership role at the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) as a co-leader of the Feminist Movements and Leadership Action Coalition, as a catalyzing member and signatory of the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact, and as a commitment-maker in the Action Coalitions on Gender-based Violence, Economic Justice and Rights, Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), and Feminist Action for Climate Justice. Throughout the GEF, Canada: Action Coalitions on Gender-based Violence, Economic Justice, Tech and Innovation, Bodily Autonomy and SRHR:

Canada also increased its efforts to support effective and inclusive peace operations, conflict prevention and peacebuilding at the UN. At the 2021 Seoul UN Peacekeeping Ministerial (UNPKM), Canada, as co-chair, pledged to support UN peace operations and peacebuilding with $85M in new projects and contributions. This included significantly scaling up and ensuring the predictability of our contributions to the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund ($70M over 3 years) and advancing gender equality and the implementation of the WPS agenda through the extension and expansion of Canada’s flagship Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations. Canada also co-hosted a preparatory meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in November 2020, which included a dedicated breakout session chaired by Canada on the impacts on women, peace and security.

The year 2021 underlined the relevance and need of the WPS agenda, including within our own borders. The ongoing legacy of colonialism is tied to root causes of discrimination, and the launch of an implementation plan in June 2021 by Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) was an important step toward strengthening Canada’s domestic implementation of its National Action Plan on WPS. Among other things, CIRNAC and ISC have addressed sex-based inequities in the Indian Act;developed the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+)Footnote 5 People;co-developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada; signed the Canada-Native Women’s Association of Canada Accord; and signed the Canada-Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak [Métis women] Declaration.

In June 2021, federal ministers responsible for the Action Plan, along with the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and the Commissioner of the RCMP,Footnote 6 met to discuss the Action Plan, reflect on accomplishments, share innovative practices to address challenges, and discussed areas needing additional attention in the final stages of the current Action Plan. During the meeting, which included briefings by civil society leaders, ministers emphasized linkages between international and domestic efforts, including the protection of Indigenous women and girls and immigration programs, and committed to listening to and amplifying the voices of women peacebuilders and feminist and women-led organizations and movements.

At this meeting, ministers, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Commissioner of the RCMP collectively supported and announced the development of Canada’s third National Action Plan on WPS, outlining the need for an inclusive process and ambitious goals. The development of the next Action Plan is well underway and will be an opportunity to address the challenges and critical gaps in the implementation of the WPS agenda.

Canada’s ongoing partnership with Indigenous and civil society organizations through the Action Plan Advisory Group is critical to the effective implementation of the Plan. UNSCR 1325 was the result of concerted efforts and advocacy by civil society organizations, and their work continues to be at the heart of the agenda today. The Action Plan Advisory Group enables the government to stay informed of civil society priorities, learn from its expertise, and participate in regular dialogue on priorities. Canada thanks its co-chair of the Advisory Group, the Women, Peace and Security Network of Canada (WPSN-C), for its ongoing leadership and engagement on advancing the Action Plan.

In this year of unprecedented challenges, the Government of Canada continued to advance the WPS agenda in the spirit of collaboration across government and with civil society and external partners.


Launched in 2017, Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2017-2022 outlines a cross-government 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 work with partners to advance the agenda both at home and abroad. The Action Plan is central to Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy.

To ensure concerted action across government, 9 federal departments and agencies have a close implementing partnership, with both international and domestic mandates. To meet the high level of ambition outlined in the Action Plan, the following federal departments and agencies are responsible for implementing the Action Plan:

This report and the attached departmental progress reports outline achievements and challenges toward meeting the objectives and targets outlined in the Action Plan and related departmental implementation plans.

The tabling of this report to Parliament was originally scheduled for September 2021 but was delayed due to the federal election.

Canada’s commitments

Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security sets out the Government of Canada’s commitments to advance the WPS agenda for the period 2017-2022. Under this plan, Canada commits to:

These objectives apply to all of Canada’s efforts across development, diplomacy, humanitarian, and peace and security efforts abroad, as well as domestic efforts within Canada related to these issues. All federal implementing partners of the Action Plan are responsible for delivering on the objectives relevant to their mandate.

Each federal department’s specific commitments to implement these objectives can be found in their departmental implementation plans and annual departmental reports, annexed to this executive summary. CIRNAC and ISC published their departmental implementation plan in April 2021 and published their first departmental progress report for FY 2020/2021.

Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security: Year 2 of her mandate

In 2019, through an order-in-council, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Jacqueline O’Neill as Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, with a 3-year mandate. The Ambassador’s primary charge is to provide confidential assessments and advice to ministers engaged in the implementation of Canada’s Action Plan and guidance on how Canada can continue to demonstrate global leadership.

As a force multiplier for efforts to advance WPS, the Ambassador is working toward comprehensive implementation of the Action Plan across the Government of Canada and broadened implementation of the WPS agenda within Canada and abroad.

During this first full year of her mandate, Ambassador O’Neill and her team created a strategic framework that identified 3 areas of focus:

  1. strengthening and expanding the network of Canada’s Action Plan implementing partners
  2. supporting the creation of customized tools, resources and guidance
  3. bolstering ambitious Canadian initiatives

The implementation of this strategic framework took the form of advice on advancing WPS and gender equality in policy and practice; support to public and private discussions; and the participation in approximately 100 significant engagements over the course of the year, where the Ambassador or her team members were keynote speakers, discussants, moderators or trainers. This work is reflected below under each focus area.

Strengthening and expanding the network of Canada’s National Action Plan federal partners

Ambassador O’Neill focused on improving coordination and information sharing across Action Plan implementing partners, with civil society and with parliament. 

She chaired quarterly meetings of Action Plan working-level implementing partner focal points, creating an opportunity for counterparts to meet, share insights and information, and coordinate activities and plans. Ambassador O’Neill also met quarterly with members of WPSN-C to receive inputs from civil society, share information and discuss relevant developments.

In total, the Ambassador hosted, moderated or organized 30 significant meetings and activities with Action Plan partners, contributing to increased knowledge sharing, more effective implementation of Action Plan commitments, improved coordination, and more informed policy development.

Ambassador O’Neill also appeared before the House of Commons of Canada Standing Committee on National Defence alongside Major-General M.H.L. (Lise) Bourgon, the CAF WPS Champion, to discuss her role and the interactions of her office with DND/CAF.

Supporting the creation of customized tools, resources and guidance

Ambassador O’Neill supported personnel across government to develop specialized skills and knowledge needed to deliver on Canada’s WPS commitments and sustain global leadership. This included developing tools, resources and guidance that reflect good practices and are customized for day-to-day work.

She convened or spoke at numerous events aimed at deepening knowledge on emerging or significant aspects of the WPS agenda. For example, in collaboration with colleagues at GAC, Ambassador O’Neill co-hosted a discussion for officials from Action Plan partner departments to engage with leading LGBTQ2I activists and academics about how the WPS agenda can be more inclusive. She also met with several coalitions of youth leaders to identify intersecting ways the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda and the WPS agenda can be mutually reinforcing.

Ambassador O’Neill provided coaching and training on WPS directly to GAC personnel, including outgoing heads of mission, members of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), and others. She also met directly with numerous personnel at diplomatic missions around the world to provide insights on country or region-specific efforts.

Finally, as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, Ambassador O’Neill sought to identify pandemic-related implications and connections for the WPS agenda. She prioritized connecting with women peacebuilders, particularly those in conflict-affected areas, to understand connections between security and the public health crisis and to ensure that government responses could ameliorate rather than exacerbate inequalities. Opportunities to inform this analysis included discussions organized through the UN’s Department of Peace Operations and civil society organizations such as Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders. Ambassador O’Neill also worked with decision-makers in Canada and abroad to prioritize attention to women, peace and security in national and international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolstering ambitious Canadian initiatives

Ambassador O’Neill supported a range of efforts by Canada’s Action Plan partners.

She worked with partners across government to shape and coordinate the focus, scope and ambition of Canada’s activities and commitments to mark the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. For example, Ambassador O’Neill helped shape Canada’s #PeacebyHer campaign, which focused on recognizing, supporting, including and protecting women peacebuilders. She served as a campaign champion and pledged to have the key concepts of UNSCR 1325 translated into at least 1 Indigenous language per region of Canada. She made this pledge in the spirit of reconciliation—to recognize the roles of Indigenous women as keepers of language, culture and peace.

As Canada co-chaired with Uruguay the global Focal Points Network on WPS, Ambassador O’Neill played an active role in the design of activities and as a speaker and moderator of numerous events. She delivered statements at the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City, and numerous other meetings organized by governments, multilateral organizations and civil society organizations. In total, she represented Canada as a panellist or keynote speaker at 25 virtual meetings hosted by groups in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Often requested to speak to Canadian experiences, Ambassador O’Neill always sought to convey humility, noting both accomplishments as well as challenges and areas where improvement by Canada is needed.

Ambassador O’Neill also sought to bolster Canadian initiatives and strengthen international coordination through participation in an informal network of her counterparts around the world. She served as chair and secretariat of this network, which consists of ambassadors and special envoys for gender equality, women and girls, and/or women, peace and security. They met for the first time at the outset of the pandemic and have since established a rhythm of quarterly meetings.

Launch of the CIRNAC and ISC Implementation Plan

CIRNAC and ISC led engagement with partners in establishing the targets and goals for their Joint Implementation Plan on WPS. During the engagement sessions, Indigenous women, Indigenous women’s organizations and other partners communicated that the security of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada is an important challenge and concern. The Joint Implementation Plan’s overall goals and targets were co-developed with Indigenous partners to ensure the Plan addressed relevant needs. The Plan was published online in June 2021.


Despite global progress, pervasive challenges remain to fully implementing the WPS agenda. These challenges have only become more acute due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women human rights defenders and peacebuilders continue to be targeted, with incidents increasing due to pandemic-related reductions in protective measures and increased mobility restrictions. Internationally, the majority of policy measures adopted to respond to the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were not gender-sensitive,Footnote 7 and women’s rights organizations and movements continue to be starkly underfunded, with bilateral aid remaining below 1% and stagnant since 2010.Footnote 8

In the fourth year of the Action Plan, the Government of Canada also faces internal challenges to coordinate implementation across many Action Plan partners and to sustain training and capacity building for Government of Canada employees.

External challenges

Canada, like many countries, continued to encounter difficulties in advancing the WPS agenda in bilateral efforts, multilateral forums and at home. For example:

Meeting the challenges in Myanmar

Between the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the February 1, 2021, coup d’état, it was a difficult year for the implementation of activities in Myanmar. However, Canada’s partners were able to quickly adapt and respond to emerging needs and continued to achieve results. One of the main challenges was the difficulty in reaching and maintaining contact with funding recipients, due to issues such as limited access to the internet and travel restrictions. For example, partners providing technical and vocational training in Rakhine State were unable to reach participants due to a prohibition on social gatherings. However, partners quickly moved to digitize content for students with internet access and mobile devices and made arrangements for remote training of community-based staff and volunteers, who then cascaded learning to communities.

Since the coup, another key issue for partners was the diminishing space for civil society organizations to operate freely, openly and safely on topics deemed sensitive by regime leaders, such as human rights, democratization, freedom of expression, peacebuilding, inclusion and equality. Communication blackouts and shutdowns imposed by the regime exacerbated this situation.

One of the biggest challenges partners faced when addressing SRHR and SGBV during the reporting year was difficulty in engaging the regime due to its focus on COVID-19-related measures and the impact of the coup on government line ministries. Some partners had a strong working relationship with the democratically elected government prior to the coup, which was instrumental for the implementation of activities such as the adoption of policies or the delivery of SRHR and SGBV services. These activities had to be cancelled or delivered through alternative approaches in the post-coup environment. Similarly, all programming that directly supported or benefited the regime was stopped or redirected.

Internal challenges

The government also met internal challenges to the effective implementation of the Action Plan, and worked diligently to address these challenges:


Results for fiscal year 2020-2021 (April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021) from Canada’s efforts to implement the Action Plan are found in the departmental progress reports from each government implementing partner. These departmental reports provide detailed results on progress and complement this summary narrative. This section provides examples of results from the departmental progress reports.

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 peace negotiations to supporting local conflict prevention, peacebuilding and mediation efforts. Recognizing that Canada has the responsibility to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all their diversity in peace and security both at home and abroad, Canada worked to develop the global normative framework for women’s participation, advocated for meaningful inclusion from the earliest phases, and advanced women’s participation through its programming, diplomacy, deployment and policy efforts. Examples of Canadian efforts from the past fiscal year include the following:

#PeaceByHer and #PeaceByThem

On March 8, 2021, Canada marked International Women’s Day by launching the #PeaceByHer global advocacy campaign through Canadian missions to include, recognize, support and protect women peacebuilders. Women peacebuilders do critical work to prevent and end deadly conflict, and yet their work continues to be unrecognized, they remain largely excluded from peace processes and are increasingly under attack.

Through the campaign, mission staff committed to 1 action that they would undertake during the year-long campaign to include, recognize, support or protect women peacebuilders. For example, to mark the launch of GAC’s #PeaceByHer campaign, the ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan and Canada’s ambassador for Women, Peace and Security issued a joint statement reiterating Canada’s continued commitment toward the protection of Afghan women’s rights and Afghan women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of the peace process.

“Women peacebuilders do immensely valuable work in conflict areas. As the Chief of UN Women’s peace and security section, I pledge to continue to advocate and call for more resources for their work.”

- Paivi Kannisto, Chief, Peace and Security, UN Women

“For #PeaceByHer, I pledge to translate UNSCR 1325—a foundational text on women, peace and security—into at least 1 Indigenous language per region of Canada. I do this in the spirit of reconciliation—to recognize the roles of Indigenous women as keepers of language, culture and of peace.”

- Jacqueline O’Neill, Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security

Recognizing that transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse peacebuilders also face gendered discrimination, Canada, for Pride season, built on the #PeaceByHer campaign to include #PeaceByThem. LGBTQ2I peacebuilders, including transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse peacebuilders, face similar gendered barriers that the #PeaceByHer campaign is working to address— namely, being largely excluded from formal peace processes, being under-recognized and underfunded, and increasingly under attack. Including #PeaceByThem in the #PeaceByHer campaign aimed to recognize that not all peacebuilders identify with gender binaries and to celebrate their contributions to peacebuilding, lived experiences and intersectional identities.

Canada co-chaired the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network

Canada was pleased to co-chair the WPS Focal Points Network with Uruguay in 2020 and 2021. The Network is a unique forum for member states to share and develop best practices for implementing the WPS agenda, with a focus on national action plans. WPS Focal Points are senior government officials from 83 countries and 7 regional organizations responsible for implementing the WPS agenda.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in early 2020, Canada and Uruguay pivoted to hosting a series of virtual meetings of the Network. A major benefit of the new online format was the ability for the WPS Focal Points to meet more easily and frequently. The virtual platform also supported greater, more active and diverse civil society participation in Network meetings, enriching discussions and resulting in practical recommendations for advancing action on WPS. In summer 2020, Canada and Uruguay were invited by the Network’s troikaFootnote 10 to extend their co-chair term into 2021 to ensure momentum of the Network during the pandemic.

Supported by UN Women as Secretariat of the Network, the co-chairs organized and co-hosted 5 virtual meetings in 2020 and 3 in 2021 based on the theme “Demonstrating leadership and taking concrete action to advance the WPS agenda”. These included a special session on WPS and the COVID-19 pandemic, and an intergenerational dialogue on UNSCR 1325 that brought the foreign ministers of Canada, Uruguay and Namibia together with young women peacebuilders from Syria, Colombia and Canada to reflect on the past, present and future of the WPS agenda. For the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) open debate on WPS in October 2020, leaders and senior ministers from the Network’s troika countries joined women peacebuilders for an exchange of ideas for concrete and practical actions to demonstrate leadership on WPS.

During 2020 to 2021, Canada also co-convened 3 working group sessions of the Focal Points: 1 focused on recommendations for increasing support and protection for women peacebuilders and 2 on developing and implementing impact-driven WPS action plans. WPS specialists and experts facilitated the working group sessions to create a space for open and constructive dialogue between Focal Points and civil society actors. Co-chairs’ summaries for all Network events in 2020 to 2021, including specific recommendations for impact-driven National Action Plans and for supporting and protecting women peacebuilders, are available on the new WPS Focal Points Network website.

Canada was pleased to provide funding to support UN Women’s coordination of the Network Secretariat in 2020 and 2021, including the development and launch of the Network website. The new platform includes Network-specific content as well as links to sites and databases that can assist WPS Focal Points and other stakeholders in researching, designing, implementing and evaluating WPS action plans and strategies. Canada also developed a 3-part information video series, “Let’s Talk WPS,” to help launch the new website.

Canada worked hard to apply GBA Plus throughout the planning and design of all Network events, ensuring elements supported inclusive participation and dialogue between the Focal Points themselves and with civil society partners. The co-chairs also made sure events included participation of a diverse group of civil society actors from youth, elder, Indigenous, racialized and other stakeholder communities. All virtual events featured simultaneous interpretation in English, French and Spanish, and many were able to provide American Sign Language as well.

To ensure the broader inclusion of civil society voices in Network discussions during the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, Canada funded Women, Peace and Security Network - Canada (WPSN-C) to consult with Canadian and international WPS civil society actors and deliver a set of recommendations. WPSN-C’s report, “Priorities for Action,”Footnote 11 was presented to the WPS Focal Points Network in a public, virtual meeting hosted by the WPSN-C on October 2, 2020.

Over the last 2 years, the Network has increased and strengthened its role as a key international forum for member states on implementing the WPS agenda as well as a unique space for Focal Points to engage in constructive dialogue with WPS civil society stakeholders. As a benchmark of progress, during Canada’s co-chair term Network membership as of September 2021 stood at 83 member states and 7 regional organizations, a significant increase from 72 members in January 2020.

In September 2021, Canada and Uruguay officially passed co-chairing to South Africa and Switzerland, during their final Network side event on the margins of the UN General Assembly. Canada will continue to contribute to the Network in 2022 as a member of the Network troika group along with Uruguay, South Africa and Switzerland.

Objective 2: Prevent, respond to and end impunity for SGBV perpetrated in conflict and SEA by peacekeepers and other international personnel, including humanitarian and development staff

Preventing conflict-related SGBV, supporting survivors and ensuring accountability remained a top priority for the government as violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law consistently remain globally high. This is also true for addressing SEA by peacekeepers and international assistance personnel who are entrusted to protect the most underserved and marginalized. During the reporting period, the Government of Canada advanced this objective:


In 2020, Canada remained the top financial donor to the NATO WPS Office, contributing $800,000 in the period 2017 to 2021 and deploying a civilian expert to support the Office of NATO’s Special Representative for WPS through PSOPs’ Civilian Deployment Platform. This supported the promotion of gender mainstreaming at NATO, WPS-related training, and better monitoring and evaluation of WPS efforts, including advancement of women’s participation at NATO. Through its efforts and contributions, Canada strengthened NATO’s commitments by systematically advocating for the integration of gender perspectives into NATO operational planning, policies, dialogue and partnerships; by encouraging cooperation with civil society, so that it provided recommendations on better implementation of UNSCR 1325 at NATO; and by raising awareness through social media and public diplomacy.

These efforts increased women’s representation in the Alliance, with the number of women in senior decision-making positions rising from 11% to 30% since 2002. Canada encouraged NATO and Allies to continue to increase the representation of women, particularly at senior levels, within both the International Staff and the International Military Staff, and in operations. Canada tried to lead by example: during the reporting period, Canadian women filled senior positions at NATO headquarters, including in the offices of the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative on WPS and International Military Staff’s Gender Adviser. In addition, Lieutenant-General Frances Allen, the highest-ranking woman in the CAF, was appointed Canada’s military representative to the Military Committee in August 2020. Canada also funded a study on barriers to women’s participation in NATO’s International Staff, published in November 2020, to identify issues with recruitment, selection and career advancement, and make recommendations for improvement.

Canada was at the forefront of efforts at NATO regarding the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence. This included helping to ensure that the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, mandated the development of NATO’s first ever Policy on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV).

Canada provided an expert to participate in the Expert Advisory Panel established by the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for WPS to inform their drafting of the CRSV policy, and further provided experts to participate in an online workshop on the issue in January 2021—both of which were convened to facilitate the development of the policy. The CRSV policy was officially endorsed by NATO defence ministers and, subsequently, by NATO leaders in June 2021. Canada also actively contributed in 2020 to help develop a strong plan to implement the NATO Policy on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, adopted in 2019.

These policies continue to instill coherent, consistent and integrated approaches, and provide strategic and political-level frameworks, to prevent and respond to SEA across NATO and to combat sexual violence in conflict. In addition, NATO conducted a study on barriers to women’s participation in NATO’s International Staff establishment and has committed to developing an implementation plan to address the various recommendations around promoting a more diverse and inclusive culture.

Canada helped facilitate discussions on crucial NATO policies, such as those on SEA and CRSV, notably through Canada’s diligent informal work as the leader of the NATO “Group of Friends of 1325” and of the new NATO “Group of Friends of Human Security.” Canada-hosted informal meetings of these groups were particularly important to maintain momentum on WPS issues during a difficult pandemic year, when more formal meetings were not always possible.

Canadian leadership at the UN: Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission

The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body that provides political accompaniment, advocacy and sustained international engagement for countries at risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict. It acts as the “hinge” between the UN’s human rights, development, and peace and security pillars, and is central to an integrated UN system that builds and sustains peace.

As chair of the PBC from January 2020 to February 2021, Canada strived to mainstream human rights, inclusion, gender equality, women’s empowerment and the WPS agenda throughout the Commission’s engagements. This included objectives to integrate the gender dimensions of peacebuilding into all the PBC’s country and regional discussions, strengthen the implementation of the PBC’s gender strategy, and strengthen the PBC’s role in implementing the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda.

To this end, Canada promoted gender-responsive peacebuilding through more systematic engagement with women peacebuilders, and improved mainstreaming of the gender dimensions of peacebuilding into its analysis and advice. Under Canada’s leadership, the number of women peacebuilders briefing the Commission significantly increased, from 6 in 2019 to a record 25 in 2020, resulting in a fivefold increase. Canada also facilitated the informal phase of the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review, which included strong recommendations on the gender dimensions of peacebuilding, including on gender-responsive peacebuilding; launched an implementation review of the PBC’s gender strategy; and ensured the adoption of a PBC action plan to respond to this review.

The UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is also a significant mechanism that enables the UN to invest in gender-responsive peacebuilding, gender equality and the implementation of the WPS agenda and to integrate these activities into the UN system. In 2021, the PBF dedicated 47% of its budget to gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment, making it a leader in the UN system in integrating gender-responsive approaches and the women, peace and security agenda.

Over the last year, Canada has been a consistent top donor to the PBF. In 2021, Minister Marc Garneau co-chaired the PBF Replenishment Conference and committed $15 million to the Fund while pledging ongoing support to finding adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for UN peacebuilding. At the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, Canada further increased its support to the PBF and committed to scale up and increase the predictability of its contributions to the Fund ($70M over 3 years) to help support conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities that build social cohesion, empower women and youth peacebuilders, and preserve peace gains during peacekeeping mission transitions.

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 the foundation for meaningful participation in peace and security efforts. Women’s hard-won rights have become even more precarious and threatened during the COVID-19 crisis, and violations and abuses of women’s human rights, pervasive misogyny and patriarchal structures, and continued lack of adequate funding for women’s rights organizations, among other things, remain urgent issues requiring action. Canada continued to promote women’s and girls’ human rights in the fourth year of the Action Plan in the following ways:

Protecting human rights defenders as refugees

Women human rights defenders are often targeted with violence due to their work and their gender. To support and protect human rights defenders, over the course of 2020 to 2021 IRCC worked to develop a new refugee stream for human rights defenders at risk that will provide protection to up to 250 people per year, including family members. The development of the stream was undertaken in close consultation with civil society organizations who work with marginalized human rights defenders, including women and LGBTQ2I defenders.

In designing this new stream, IRCC faced the challenge of finding a way to ensure that it would reach those who need it most, including groups such as women human rights defenders, who face particular risks. To this end, IRCC partnered with 2 international organizations with expertise on the protection of human rights defenders— and Front Line Defenders—to identify those most in need. These organizations brought a particular focus to the work of women human rights defenders and other marginalized groups. Partnering with these groups ensured that Canada will be able to provide protection to women who face risks due to their work to promote or protect the rights of other women.

Canada also operated a special resettlement program, the Assistance to Women at Risk Program, which recognized the particular risks faced by refugee women and girls due to patriarchal social norms and practices. Refugee women and girls face unique and heightened risks, including SGBV, due to their gender. This program allowed the Government of Canada to provide timely and effective protection to women and girls in need, including in conflict or post-conflict contexts.

Canada’s Women at Risk program was designed to offer resettlement opportunities to women who face these risks or find themselves in precarious situations where local authorities cannot ensure their safety. Under this program, cases involving refugee women and girls at risk can be processed in an expedited fashion. Also, in recognition of the discrimination that women face, refugees resettled under this program are exempt from the usual requirement to demonstrate an ability to establish themselves. They may also be eligible for additional settlement support services in Canada through the Joint Assistance Sponsorship program, which provided refugees with support over a longer period, and provided the benefits of combined support from the Government of Canada and private sponsors.

Canada’s federal Budget 2021 included additional funds for the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot (formerly the Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot) to continue to provide support to improve the employment outcomes and career advancement of racialized newcomer women in Canada through the delivery of targeted settlement services. Programming has been designed to address multiple barriers, including gender- and race-based discrimination, precarious or low-income employment, lack of affordable childcare, and weak social supports. This initiative will contribute to greater opportunities for racialized newcomer women to participate equally and fully in the economy, and best practices may inform further settlement supports for newcomer women.

Women’s Voice and Leadership Program

The Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Program is a cornerstone of Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC’s) feminist approach to empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality. The $150M-over 5-years initiative is supporting the needs of local women’s organizations in developing countries, helping them advance gender equality, empower women and protect their human rights. Over the reporting period, GAC enhanced its support to more than 100 local women’s rights organizations (WROs) in conflict-affected countries. This served to advance national landmark policies and legislation that improve and protect women and girls’ fundamental rights and demonstrated that broadening the participation of local WROs in the COVID-19 response was not only an end in itself, but also a critical pathway to effectively respond to one of the world’s biggest pandemics.  

Through WVL projects in Haiti, South Sudan, Bangladesh and Colombia, WROs have successfully advocated for a gender-responsive COVID-19 pandemic response, including influencing government responses to lockdowns, and linking women and girls to basic SGBV, food security and livelihood services.

In Colombia, WROs worked together on developing strategies for protection pathways, including self-protection strategies for women leaders and human rights defenders.

In South Sudan, the WVL project supported 2 women rights networks in the state of Central Equatoria to access funding dedicated to women, peace and security, which contributed to increasing their leadership in humanitarian decision-making and promoting a gender-transformative programming mechanism to save lives and prevent the cycle of crises in communities.

In Nigeria, 100 Women Lobby Group and the Women in Politics Forum held a joint protest against electoral violence that led to the arrest of 7 alleged SGBV perpetrators, who are currently awaiting prosecution.

Objective 4: Meet the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings, including upholding their sexual rights and their access to sexual and reproductive health services

Canada continued to demonstrate global leadership in promoting gender-responsive humanitarian assistance and upholding sexual rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services, in accordance with the Feminist International Assistance Policy and the sub-policy A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action. During 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

Through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, Canada continued to address the low numbers of women deployed to peace operations and worked to increase the meaningful participation of uniformed women through a variety of initiatives:

Chairing of the Women, Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence Network

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) accepted the chair of the Women, Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence (WPS CHODs) Network in July 2019. The purpose of the Network is to provide a collaborative platform for CHODs who have committed to advancing the WPS agenda within their defence force. The Network supports members’ efforts to build internal capacity and expertise. By sharing experiences, lessons observed and best practices, members enhanced their shared understanding and knowledge, thereby increasing their ability to advance the WPS agenda within their own defence force. DND/CAF’s focus was on strengthening and formalizing the Network, expanding its membership, and increasing awareness and nations’ commitment to advancing the WPS agenda. Canada has increased membership in the Network by 44%, launched an aide-memoire entitled “Integrating Gender Perspectives in Operations”Footnote 16 designed to assist all members of the CAF to integrate gender perspectives and the principles of GBA Plus into operations, published a charter for the Network, and developed a digital and portable training package—to be made available to all UN countries—aimed at junior military personnel. As it did with the WPS Focal Points Network, Canada remained as chair of the WPS CHODs Network through to 2021 and handed the position over to Bangladesh on February 8, 2022.

Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations: Building the evidence base

In its third year, the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations made important progress in contributing to the development of global evidence on barriers to women’s meaningful participation in peace operations. Building this global evidence base allows for informed policy and program development to address these barriers in an impactful and lasting way.

To do this, Canada continued to support several major research projects, including the Reducing Barriers for Uniformed Women in UN Peace Operations project with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) and Cornell University, the Women’s Participation in UN Peace Operations project with the International Peace Institute (IPI), and Measuring Gender Impacts on Operational Effectiveness in UN Peace Operations with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

With Canada’s support, IPI produced 3 policy briefs,Footnote 17 with additional briefs expected to be published in 2021 to 2022. The briefs published by IPI, coupled with IPI outreach activities, led to important policy impacts. For example, the IPI brief Uniformed Women in Peace Operations: Challenging Assumptions and Transforming Approaches informed the content of UNSC Resolution 2538, the first ever standalone brief on women in peacekeeping. Similarly, the IPI brief Woman First, Solider Second: Taboos and Stigmas Facing Military Women in UN Peace Operations (together with a workshop hosted by IPI on the topic) helped push forward the discussion on sexual harassment in the UN’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34), leading to the adoption of the first ever reference to sexual harassment in the 2021 C34 report.Footnote 18

Important progress was also made in the development of the Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations (MOWIP) methodology,Footnote 19 an innovative tool developed by DCAF (with financial support from Canada and Norway) to help T/PCC military and police institutions identify barriers to women’s meaningful participation in UN peace operations and meaningful pathways for change. In October 2020, DCAF published the MOWIP methodology, while continuing to pilot its implementation in 7 pilot countries. As of March 31, 2021, MOWIP assessments had been completed for the Zambia Police Service and Ghana Armed Forces, with the German Armed Forces also completing a barrier assessment in 2020 to 2021 using an adapted version of the methodology. The CAF commenced a MOWIP barrier assessment in 2020 to 2021, and additional assessments are expected to be completed in 2021 to 2022.Footnote 20

Canada also supported the launch of DCAF’s Elsie Helpdesk and Cornell University’s Gender and Security Sector Lab to provide technical advice and analytical support to T/PCCs seeking to implement the MOWIP methodology. To date, the Elsie Helpdesk has supported 21 security institutions in 14 countries, and the Gender and Security Sector Lab is supporting Liberia in implementing the MOWIP methodology within the Armed Forces of Liberia.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a reoccurring challenge for Elsie’s research partners in their ability to conduct fieldwork. As a result, for select research, fieldwork was postponed and, where possible, was adjusted to include virtual surveys and interviews. Additionally, there have been delays with implementing the MOWIP methodology with pilot countries where DCAF has revised timelines and adapted the methodology in the context of COVID-19. Despite this, in the next reporting year the Elsie Initiative will continue to contribute to the global evidence and support the publication of the following: 14 issue briefs and policy papers, 1 research report, 6 barrier assessments for the remaining pilot country institutions, and a Global MOWIP report that will update the Elsie Initiative baseline study and include MOWIP findings from all pilot countries. 

Through concerted efforts by the UN, T/PCCs and the Elsie Initiative,Footnote 21 there is overall notable progress toward increasing the meaningful participation of uniformed women in peacekeeping. Women targets for the category “formed police units” in 2020 was set at 10%, and the actual number exceeded the target and attained 13%; women targets for the category “individual police officers” was set at 22% in 2020, and actual number recorded was 29.1%; women targets for the category “military observers and staff officers” was set at 17% for 2020 and the actual rate recorded was 18.7%; and finally, women targets for the category “troop contingents” was at set 7% for 2020, but the actual rate recorded was 5.2%, showing a continuous need to support T/PCCs in addressing barriers affecting the participation of uniformed women in peace operations. These efforts complemented commitments to support effective and inclusive peace operations, conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

To ensure this critical work continues, Canada announced a 5-year extension and expansion of the Elsie Initiative at the 2021 UNPKM.

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

Action Plan partners have set several 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, as well as the development of resources and expertise:

Advancing diversity in Canada’s security sector

During the reporting year, the RCMP launched its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which took a firm stance against racism and discrimination within the organization and the communities it serves. The Strategy integrated perspectives shared by employees from employment equity groups; Black, Indigenous and employees of colour; and members of the LGBTQ2I community, as well as key recommendations from various reports on RCMP culture and broader federal strategies. It identified concrete actions that target cultural transformation to enhance equity and trust in Canada’s national police service, such as developing training products, renewing recruitment and promotional practices, and setting clear accountability measures for the organization and leaders.

In September 2020, the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources - Civilian) at DND launched the Visible Minorities Recruitment Campaign, a hiring process exclusively for members of racialized communities. This campaign flipped the traditional executive recruitment paradigm on its head by using artificial intelligence tools to eliminate bias, a skills-based assessment to uncover applicants’ strengths, and a Fairness and Transparency Panel of external leaders to provide independent views on the process. The campaign attracted 471 applicants, of which 204 self-identified as women. Of the 74 fully and partially qualified candidates, 41 were women and 7 have been hired to date. Not only did this initiative enhance executive representation, it also made space for racialized women in DND’s executive cadre.

Conclusion and next steps

Considerable progress was made during the reporting period toward achieving Action Plan objectives, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada pivoted its work significantly to adapt to a virtual environment and responded to the increased risk and violence faced by women peacebuilders around the world. Canada leveraged every leadership opportunity to advance the WPS agenda and feminist approaches, including through co-chairing the WPS Focal Points Network, chairing the Peacebuilding Commission, chairing the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, and as a catalyzing member of the WPS-HA Compact.

Despite this progress, challenges persisted regarding the full implementation of the Action Plan, including the full integration of the Action Plan into Canada’s policies, programs and interventions. Action Plan partners worked to address the challenges outlined in last year’s progress report, in particular working to develop an enhanced, common understanding of a feminist approach to implementing the Action Plan. WPS Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill helped foster this understanding by hosting regular meetings among implementing partners.

The announcement by ministers in June 2021 on the development of Canada’s third National Action Plan set the tone for the next plan, outlining the need for an inclusive process and ambitious goals. The development is well underway and will be an opportunity to address the challenges and critical gaps in the implementation of the WPS agenda.

Canada will use this opportunity to explore how the WPS agenda can be used to address the legacy of colonialism and increase the domestic focus of the Action Plan, while continuing to lead on the advancement of the agenda globally. It will also be an opportunity to address the root causes of violence and discrimination, including by applying an anti-racism lens to respond to global and systemic discrimination.

To ensure that Canada is equipped to deliver on the high level of ambition outlined for the next Action Plan, it will rely on the outcomes of the mid-term review conducted in 2021 to improve monitoring, evaluation and coordination. While the mid-term review was delayed due to the 2019 federal election and the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided a thorough analysis and recommendations to integrate into the next Action Plan that will help ensure that implementing partners equally shape Canada’s efforts to achieve optimal results.

Despite the focus on the development of its next Action Plan in the upcoming year, Canada will continue to strengthen implementation of the current Action Plan to ensure that the last year of implementation delivers on the objectives, addresses the challenges and gaps in implementation, and increases its leadership to advance the WPS agenda both at home and abroad.


Annex A: Definitions

These definitions can be found in Canada’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security. These definitions are formulated and compiled to help readers understand the terms as they are used in the Action Plan.

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 because 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 socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men and gender-diverse people. It influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they act and interact, the distribution of power and resources in society, and people’s social, health and economic outcomes.

Sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals. It is primarily associated with physical and physiological features including chromosomes, gene expression, hormone levels and function, and reproductive/sexual anatomy. Sex is usually categorized as female or male but there is variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed.

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 to support the development of responsive and inclusive initiatives, including policies, programs and other initiatives. GBA Plus is a process for understanding who is impacted by the issue being addressed by the initiative and how; identifying how the initiative could be tailored to meet diverse needs of the people most impacted; and anticipating and mitigating any barriers to accessing or benefiting from the initiative. GBA Plus is also an ongoing process that does not stop once an initiative has been developed. It is an analytical tool that can and should be applied to all stages of initiative development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Applying GBA Plus early in the policy development process ensures that diversity considerations are embedded in the decision-making process, allowing for responsive and inclusive initiatives that meet the needs of diverse groups of people. Since 1995, the Government of Canada has committed to the application of gender-based analysis in all federal government decision-making. In 2011, the government added the “Plus” to emphasize the need to consider many factors when undertaking the analysis.

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. 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 statebuilding.

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 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): sexual and reproductive health and rights encompass the following:

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

Canada leads in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent WPS resolutions.


More inclusive, gender equal and stable societies.

Outcomes (objectives)

Women participate in peace and security efforts, women and girls are empowered, and their human rights are upheld in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS).

Intermediate outcomes

Positive changes in behaviour, social norms, institutionalized practices and legal systems, including customary and religious laws, in relation to gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other international personnel.

Immediate outcomes

National and local governments, civil society, donor states, the UN and other multilateral organizations working in and in relation to FCAS have increased capacity and motivation to take a gender-responsive and gender-transformative approach and promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights, their empowerment and gender equality, and engage men and boys in these efforts.

Actions (What we do)

Increased capacity to deliver
Diplomacy and political leadership

Strategic approach

A gender-responsive, human rights-based and whole-of-government approach to peace and security interventions and the situation of women and girls in FCAS.


Despite evidence that women’s participation is vital to achieving and sustaining peace and that women are critical change agents, often leading peace movements and driving community recovery after conflict, they are largely excluded from peace negotiations and processes. SGBV in conflict, constraints on women’s ability to participate in conflict resolution and violations of women’s and girls’ human rights remain urgent issues requiring action in order to achieve progress toward more inclusive, equal and stable societies.

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