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
- Canada’s commitments
- Objective 1: Increase the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state-building
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Improving the Government of Canada’s capacity to implement the Action Plan
- Conclusion and next steps
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:
- Investing in women peacebuilders. In addition to $5M in dedicated funding to specifically support grassroots women peacebuilders, the Government of Canada also allocated up to $9.9M in new investments to support women peacebuilders globally, for a total of up to $14.9M.Footnote 1
- Recognizing women peacebuilders. Canada announced the creation of an annual Women, Peace and Security Awards program to highlight excellence in research and civil society leadership. This new awards program has 2 components: a WPS Civil Society Leadership award, led by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), to recognize the grassroots work of individuals, civil society organizations or networks; and a Research Award, led by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), to encourage innovative work undertaken by researchers or research institutions in fragile and conflict-affected states. In the first year, the awards focused on women peacebuilders.
- Supporting women peacebuilders. Canada also launched the #PeaceByHer advocacy campaign, a year-long global advocacy initiative through its network of diplomatic missions worldwide to recognize, support and protect the work of women peacebuilders.
“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:
- advocated for the rights and needs of women and adolescent girls to be considered in all Action Coalitions ensuring the meaningful participation of adolescent girls and young women in all their diversity
- announced $180M in new funding to achieve several concrete policy and financial commitments with a focus on unpaid and paid care work; girls‘ education; gender equality in leadership; civic education; ending child, early, and forced marriage; and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited and intersex (LGBTQ2IFootnote 4) organizations
- launched a process to co-create the Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements
- signed on to 5 key action commitments within the WPS-HA, and is working toward their implementation through programmatic and advocacy efforts
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:
- National Defence (DND)/Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)
- Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC)
- Department of Justice Canada
- Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
- Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)
- Public Safety Canada (PS)
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
- Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE)
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 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:
- increasing the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state-building
- preventing, responding to and ending impunity for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) perpetrated in conflict and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) committed by peacekeepers and other international personnel, including humanitarian and development staff
- promoting and protecting women and girls’ human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in fragile, conflict and post-conflict settings
- meeting the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings, including upholding their sexual rights and their access to sexual and reproductive health services
- strengthening 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
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:
- strengthening and expanding the network of Canada’s Action Plan implementing partners
- supporting the creation of customized tools, resources and guidance
- 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.
Canada, like many countries, continued to encounter difficulties in advancing the WPS agenda in bilateral efforts, multilateral forums and at home. For example:
- It was challenging to obtain consensus on gender and WPS language in multilateral negotiations, especially in light of continued efforts to backtrack on previously agreed language. Virtual negotiations and the absence of in-person delegations posed an additional challenge for the inclusion of gender language in resolutions as negotiators often rely on interactions on the margins to help reach consensus on sensitive issues.
- Peace operations were impacted by precautions and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the repatriation of personnel from some missions and suspension of training or other high-exposure activities. In many cases, innovative approaches and adjustments allowed personnel to continue their efforts toward mission objectives. For example, many of the repatriated personnel were able to continue their work remotely from Canada and adapt to a virtual work environment. Online training was developed to replace some aspects of in-person training.
- In instances where the Canadian Police Arrangement (CPA) was able to deploy officers, there were significant logistical challenges, including:
- third-party medical providers shutting down some services, impacting the CPA’s ability to conduct medical examinations
- lack of vaccine allotment for deployed officers
- police officers not prioritized for early vaccination in most provinces
- a UN temporary suspension of contingent rotations in certain missions
- commercial international travel services significantly reduced
- some police partner agencies and RCMP divisions being unable to release members for deployment due to front-line policing pressures created by the pandemic
- Despite these challenges, deployed personnel exhibited tremendous resilience and innovation in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic.
- In Jordan, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted program implementation. However, most partners were able to adapt, and used some project resources for direct COVID-19 response. The transition to online learning, training and meetings, as well as the use of technology, were the main adaptation strategies, which in some cases facilitated access to services and training—especially for women. However, this technological transition was at times an extra hurdle for some women due to their lack of tech literacy, the lack of privacy at home, the lack of sufficient mobile devices in households, the prioritization of boys’ education, and women’ increased unpaid-care burden.
- In Colombia, connectivity issues with project participants from isolated regions posed some challenges to effective participation in project activities. COVID-19 mobility restrictions resulted in increased threats to, violence against and killings of women and men social leaders and human rights defenders, and reduced access to services by victims. Reports also indicated increased domestic violence and SGBV against women and LGBTQ2I populations.
- The challenges of working in fragile and politically unstable contexts persisted and were amplified by the increased risk due to COVID-19. For example, security risks remained high in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, while misinformation and rumours on social media continued to pose operational challenges and reputational risks for every actor present in the country.
- Implementing projects in Syria remained challenging due to restricted operational space. The Syrian regime and violent extremist groups continued to control or be active in most of Syria’s territory, limiting international donors’ capacity to support civil society, including women-led organizations.
- An example from Canada includes the lack of justice sector data to support evidence-based decision-making. Justice Canada is currently pursuing several data-collection initiatives that will help clarify the nature of challenges people face and the pathways they seek to resolve them. One example is the Canadian Legal Problems Survey (CLPS), launched in February 2021, which collected data on the prevalence and nature of serious legal problems across Canada and on whether, and how, those problems were resolved. Disaggregating the data will provide a clearer picture of how different populations, including women, experience legal problems.
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.
The government also met internal challenges to the effective implementation of the Action Plan, and worked diligently to address these challenges:
- Ongoing capacity building for staff on gender equality and WPS was necessary for the effective implementation of the Action Plan. The pandemic slowed course delivery and progress on course updates and required that all training be moved to an online environment, which caused delays to offering existing courses and to developing new training.
- The CAF remained committed to increasing the representation of women to reach its goal of 25.1% by 2026. Challenges remained, with representation increasing by 1% in the last 3 years, reaching 16.3% during the reporting year. While many positive culture-change efforts are underway, CAF’s ability to recruit and retain women members still represents a challenge; its image and reputation are hampered by continued incidents and reporting of sexual misconduct.
- Efforts to improve the Action Plan reporting process, including by a more thorough accounting for implementation challenges and demonstrating results, remained difficult. One challenge was the need for consistency in implementation plan indicators, to allow year-to-year monitoring, versus adjustments needed to meet the changing realities and contexts, especially in light of COVID-19. It also remained difficult to attribute results directly to Canada’s efforts, meaning that reporting often focused on the immediate outcome level in the Action Plan’s Theory of Change (see Annex B).
- The cross-government nature of the Action Plan means the plan encompasses a diversity of departmental mandates, which are not fully reflected in the current Action Plan objectives. At times, this posed challenges to a common understanding of how the agenda applies across different mandates. This is representative of Canada’s evolving understanding of the WPS agenda and opportunities for domestic implementation, which will be reflected in the next iteration of the Action Plan.
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:
- At the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2021, Canada was successful in securing strong language on 2 key priority areas: Indigenous women, girls and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. The agreed conclusionsFootnote 9, which were negotiated virtually, recognized the 20th anniversary of the WPS agenda, and reaffirmed that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of peace processes is an essential factor for the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.
- The Minister of Justice’s mandate includes work to ensure that the federally appointed judiciary is gender-balanced and reflective of Canada’s diversity. Since reforms were introduced to the Canadian superior court judicial appointments process in 2016, of the 370 first-time judicial appointments, 209 are women (56.5%); 14 are Indigenous (3.8%); 37 are visible minorities (10%); 55 are of an “ethnic cultural group or other” (14.9%); 3 are persons with a disability (0.8%); and 25 are LGBTQ2I (6.8%).
- DND put in place a strategy to increase the representation of women in executive positions, achieving 45% in 2020, with the most senior leadership ranks seeing over 50% representation. Understanding that women’s representation is critical in all areas, DND has reduced representation gaps in several occupational groups, including research, financial management and human resource management, but is still lagging in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sections. To address this gap, DND implemented a talent management and engineering development program, providing women in STEM with opportunities to grow and be mentored to take on leadership and engineering roles.
- In Lebanon, Canada and UN Women supported the Feminist Civil Society Platform, a group of 46 local feminist activists and women’s rights organizations. The group called for a gendered disaster-response plan following the Beirut Port explosion and presented their charter of demandsto the diplomatic community to mobilize support. As close allies, Canada and UN Women’s continued efforts to amplify the diverse voices of feminist activists and women’s rights organizations helped pave the way for:
- an initial gender analysis and a more comprehensive gender analysis of needs and prioritiesto inform humanitarian and early-recovery efforts, as the early response to the blast and response plans were quite gender-blind and not prepared in a fully participatory, consultative manner
- These analyses helped improve the gender-sensitivity of the response and were used to inform the selection of partners and funding allocations by Canada and other donors. For example, Canada immediately provided additional support to women-focused service providers such as UNFPA for women and girl-specific emergency programming related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and selected Canadian humanitarian partners working directly with Lebanese women’s rights organizations for the provision of humanitarian services.
- More robust gender analysis also served as the basis for a gender review in 2021 to gauge progress, highlight best practices and key successes, and propose recommendations to guide upcoming needs assessments and implementation of response plans in Lebanon
- ensuring women’s representation, leadership and inclusion in recovery, relief and rehabilitation
- Civil society and women’s rights advocates and organizations were included within the governance and oversight structures of key decision-making and response mechanisms like the Lebanon Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) Consultative Group, alongside representatives of the Government of Lebanon, Lebanese civil society, the EU, UN, World Bank and international donors, including Canada. They were also included in the national steering committee of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF), which was officially launched in Lebanon in February 2021 (Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon is also a member of this committee).
- Women’s enhanced representation and voice also contributed to gender-specific initiatives, indicators and targets being identified, selected and supported through these 2 mechanisms (3RF and WPHF). For example, the 3RF is supporting immediate social recovery needs of vulnerable groups, with a focus on prevention and response to gender-based violence, psychosocial support and care for the disabled and elderly, as well as the recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises, with a target of at least 30% of supported businesses to be owned or led by women. Canada has provided $20M and is the second-largest donor to the multi-donor fund financing 3RF implementation. Additionally, the WPHF is supporting 6 projects implemented by 7 women-led and women’s rights civil society organizations selected through a targeted call for proposals aimed at enhancing the meaningful participation of women and marginalized groups in the response; Canada has provided $7.3M to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund at the global level.
- an initial gender analysis and a more comprehensive gender analysis of needs and prioritiesto inform humanitarian and early-recovery efforts, as the early response to the blast and response plans were quite gender-blind and not prepared in a fully participatory, consultative manner
- Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York met regularly with women’s civil society groups and amplified the voices of women’s organizations, including through the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security. It built linkages between the participation pillar of the WPS agenda and other peace and security issues at the UN, notably disarmament and non-proliferation, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism. In New York, Canada delivered statements of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security calling on the UN to aim toward making women’s full, equal and meaningful participation a requirement in all mediation teams, political transitions and the peace processes it leads or co-leads. Canada continued to implement its Gender Pledge and expanded it to better reflect issues surrounding diversity and intersecting forms of discrimination. The Gender Pledge notably calls for balanced gender representation in Canadian delegations, strong language on gender equality and women’s empowerment in resolutions, statements and side events, and regular consultations with women’s groups and groups promoting gender equality and the human rights of women and girls.
- The Canadian police mission in Ukraine worked with Ukrainian representatives to provide strategic advice and support toward Ukrainian police reform. Canadian police provided mentorship, training and technical expertise, and monitored the progress of the National Police of Ukraine and patrol police, especially in the realms of accountability and ethics, gender equality and respect for human rights. A dedicated gender adviser provided advice on gender issues, and worked to reduce and eradicate incidents of SGBV and improve the meaningful participation of women police officers in Ukraine.
- In 2019, Canada signed a 15-year contribution agreement for $300M with the Equality Fund consortium to support women’s organizations and movements in developing countries. In 2020-2021, the Equality Fund directly disbursed 51 grants and partnered with the African Women’s Development Fund to disburse an additional 42 grants across Africa. Together, these 93 grants totalled $5.4M and were disbursed to women’s organizations and movements in developing countries, and a quarter of grantee partners reported that recipients were women affected by conflict or post-conflict. The Equality Fund is preparing to establish a grant-making stream focused on crisis and humanitarian settings, including conflict-related crises, which will continue to contribute to this objective in future years.
- A goal of CIRNAC and ISC’s Joint Implementation Plan on WPS is to increase the participation of Indigenous women in consultation and engagement processes, including modern treaty negotiations. This ensures that the specific concerns and needs of Indigenous women are addressed during the negotiation and implementation of treaties, self-government agreements and other constructive arrangements. Another goal of the Implementation Plan is to continue building relationships with national, regional and local Indigenous women’s organizations in order to strengthen the Government of Canada’s partnership with Indigenous organizations that advocate for women’s rights. To support this engagement and ensure that the specific needs of Indigenous women are being addressed, Canada co-developed an MOU with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, an accord with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and worked toward a declaration with Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Métis women). To support the implementation of these agreements and priorities, CIRNAC is providing funding to these 3 national organizations. In 2020 to 2021, a total amount of $3.1M was allotted to support the implementation of the MOU and accord, and $879,000 to support priorities of Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak.
- Correctional Service Canada (CSC) continued to advance WPS priorities through its participation and co-chairing of the Group of Friends of Corrections in Peace Operations, a forum for the provision of political, technical and personnel support to corrections work in UN peace operations. The Group works to promote the importance of women correctional officers in peace operations activities, increase awareness of gender issues and human rights among prisoners, and promotes the inclusion of women within leadership and management positions in correctional services.
- At the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest regional security organization, Canada continued to use every relevant opportunity to raise gender equality and WPS in formal meetings and events; provide high-calibre speakers on issues relevant to conflict, security and gender equality; and participated in informal networks such as OSCE Women Ambassadors, Women in Political-Military Dimension (W1D), MenEngage Alliance and ad-hoc gender-related coordination groups. Canada also maintained pressure to ensure a balanced representation of women in the OSCE itself.
- In Afghanistan, Canada provided civil society organizations and peace practitioners with practical tools to counter hardline stances on women’s rights issues and, ultimately, bolster their participation in the peace process. This was done through funding strategic research into the underpinning of the Taliban’s religious worldview, with a specific focus on the Taliban’s extreme stance on gender equality and women’s rights. Canada invited Islamic scholars to present their GAC-supported research to the Afghanistan WPS Working Group to promote greater literacy of the Taliban’s underlying Hanafi jurisprudence among Afghan women’s groups.
- In Jordan, Canada aimed to address social, institutional and cultural constraints by empowering women members of Jordan’s security sector. Through the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program (CTCBP), Canada supported the training of 79 women police officers in tactical firearms, search techniques and medic capabilities. Of this total, 32 women officers participated in the train-the-trainer program.
- In 2020 to 2021, Canada and Sierra Leone continued as co-chairs of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS). In the wake of COVID-19, the co-chairs negotiated a joint statement calling for peace to be safeguarded during the pandemic and reiterating the importance of inclusive, gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive responses to ensure that hard-won peacebuilding and statebuilding gains in countries affected by fragility and conflict were sustained. The statement was endorsed by the 30 donors of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), the 20 member-countries of the g7+ (the organization of countries affected by fragility and conflict), and the dozens of CSOs in the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS).
#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 to 2021, Canada remained focused on ensuring coherence among multiple lines of effort to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA). The establishment of the PSEA Unit within GAC renewed coordination of PSEA efforts across the department and facilitated coherence across the Government of Canada. Canada continued to be a strong advocate for and financial supporter of the full implementation of the UN’s zero-tolerance policy on SEA, urging troop- and police-contributing countries (T/PCC), as well as UN agencies and other international actors, to uphold their obligations to take measures to prevent SEA, investigate allegations and take action. Through support from PSOPs, Canada has contributed $300,000 to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women in support of the victims of SEA (2017 to 2019), and $300,000 to the Office of the UN Special Coordinator. Since May 2016, Canada has deployed a military legal officer to support the Office of the Special Coordinator.
- During pre-deployment training, the RCMP provided sessions on the differential impact of conflict on women and girls, SGBV, cultural awareness, as well as code of conduct and ethics, including Canada’s zero-tolerance policy for SEA. This training reinforced Canada’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of police conduct in missions; promoting transparency and accountability for the actions of deployed police; and taking all allegations of SEA or other misconduct seriously. In FY 2020 to 2021, there were no reported cases of SEA in peace operations/missions allegedly perpetrated by Canadian police.
- Canada stated its intention to file a joint intervention with the Netherlands in the matter of The Gambia v. Myanmar, a case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The intervention will assist with the complex legal issues that are expected to arise and will pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape.
- International Security and Political Affairs branch programs at GAC included a specific clause on sexual misconduct in its contribution agreement template and are endeavouring to include a similar clause in the text of all other financial instruments. This clause recognizes that “sexual exploitation and sexual abuse violate universally recognized international legal norms and standards and, aligned with Canada’s commitment to the delivery of international assistance grounded in a human rights framework, the Recipient declares and guarantees that it has in place, and shall maintain in place for the duration of the Agreement, a publicly available Code of Conduct to prevent, investigate and respond to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
- The CAF worked on several initiatives, among others, to continue efforts to respond to SBGV perpetrated within the organization:
- The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) provided services to members of the CAF community affected by sexual misconduct and provided opportunities for increased collaboration between community-based civilian service providers and the CAF. The SMRC reached a total of 9 contribution agreements as part of the Sexual Assault Centre Contribution Program. This program is part of Canada’s overall commitment to respond to SGBV and provides financial support to Canadian civilian not-for-profit sexual assault centres located near bases that serve the largest CAF populations. In the coming year, the SMRC will be working on an expansion to this program that will increase the number of locations and add a special component for innovative programming to reach underserved populations and communities.
- In October 2020, the Director General - Professional Military Conduct released The Path to Dignity and Respect: The CAF Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy. The Path is a comprehensive, long-term strategy that acknowledges the role that CAF culture plays in the issue of sexual misconduct and identifies what aspects of CAF culture must be changed, eliminated or strengthened to confront it effectively. This strategy is a unique approach, developed specifically for the CAF and based on extensive research, expert advice and experience in addressing sexual misconduct.
- In July 2020, the CAF launched the new Hateful Conduct Policy, which defines hateful conduct and provides guidance to all CAF members on how unacceptable behaviour is to be addressed going forward. This policy is in line with efforts to prevent, respond to, and end SGBV and includes an incident tracking system for accountability in investigation and outcomes. In addition, the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (launched summer 2021) will guide DND/CAF to be better equipped to prevent and address SGBV within the department.
- Canada supported positive change in preventing, combatting and ending impunity for SEA perpetrated by peacekeepers and other international personnel by supporting transitional justice mechanisms. Through PSOPs’ support to the Peace Operations Training Institute, peacekeeping e-learning was provided to 19,360 personnel that included education on gender awareness, SEA and SGBV. In 2020, the UN Women Coordinator for Community of Practice and Outreach, the UN Women Policy Specialist - Gender and Peacebuilding and the Military Liaison Officer in Peacekeeping and SEA in New York reviewed and updated the 3 WPS courses.
- Even though Canada is not a conflict-affected state, Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, including experiencing violence by police, hospital staff and other first responders. CIRNAC and ISC’s Joint Implementation Plan on WPS commits to following through on the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In June 2021, the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People was released. This national action plan is truly national and requires all levels of government—Indigenous, federal, provincial, territorial and municipal—to address the calls for justice. For example, the Government of Canada developed the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People as its contribution to the national action plan. To help advance the implementation of the Federal Pathway, the Government of Canada invested $724.1M to expand culturally relevant supports for Indigenous peoples facing SGBV and support new emergency shelters and transitional housing across the country, including in the North and in urban centres.
- In September 2021 and again in February 2022, CSC researchers, analysts and directors held 2 knowledge-sharing sessions with a total of 160 WAGE employees (75 per session). The presentations provided an overview of the demographic data and social histories of incarcerated women and men who have been affected by SGBV, and on trauma-informed approaches and programs, including post-incarceration rehabilitation. These sessions contributed to the federal efforts under the federal Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence led by WAGE.
- Global Affairs Canada provided $500,000 in humanitarian assistance to the International Organization for Migration for the Whole of Syria Inter-Agency Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse program. Support and training on recognizing and responding to PSEA was provided to UN and NGO staff participating in humanitarian activities in northern Syria, leading to significantly improved coordination and response in 2020.
- The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program (War Crimes Program) at Department of Justice Canada supported the investigation and prosecution of acts of sexual violence that are committed as a tool of war or as an act of genocide against girls and women. Canada is a firm proponent of the International Criminal Court, and Department of Justice Canada continued its support of the investigation and prosecution of cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity. For example, the War Crimes Program often engaged in Canada’s response to its requests for assistance, such as locating and facilitating evidence-gathering, including supporting witness interviews in Canada.
- As a result of Canada’s advocacy efforts within the Geneva-based Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, awareness of the synergies between the WPS Agenda and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was raised among numerous experts from Geneva permanent missions working in areas other than disarmament (e.g. human rights, humanitarian or legal affairs). Canada actively supported the ATT’s focus on gender and SGBV by hosting an event on the issue and by supporting the adoption of language on gender and SGBV in the ATT resolution. With Canada’s support, the ATT resolution was adopted by a majority vote of the UN General Assembly, with 150 states voting in its favour.
WPS at NATO
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:
- In 2020 to 2021, Canada further enhanced its support to the COVID-19 emergency response of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, enabling frontline civil society organizations and women’s rights organizations to rapidly adapt their work to meet the urgent needs of women and girls. Canada did this by providing $12M in additional funding, on top of an existing $2M in institutional support. For example, UN Trust Fund grantees worked to ensure access to services for survivors of SGBV who are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced in Iraq, Jordan, the Gaza Strip, Armenia, Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon. Approximately 11,747 refugee and internally displaced women and girls were reached by the UN Trust Fund in 2020 alone.Footnote 12
- In 2020, Canada’s support to the Geneva-based Disarmament Impact GroupFootnote 13 resulted in the adoption, maintenance or enhancement of gender perspectives in 18 of 72 resolutions and decisions adopted by the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee) in 2020. This represents an unprecedented number of resolutions with a gender dimension, up from 17 in 2019. The Disarmament Impact Group achieved this by coordinating advocacy efforts to include gender-considerations language in several resolutions and decision at the UN General Assembly.
- WAGE collaborated with the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children at Western University to develop a public service version of their “Make It Our Business” training for the workplace, which addresses domestic violence. The training outlined how supervisors, managers, human resources professionals, union representatives, and co-workers can recognize signs of violence in an intimate partner relationship, respond to domestic violence, and refer victims, survivors and abusers to supports that offer help. The training pilot was tested at WAGE in 2020 to 2021 and further voluntary sessions with managers and directors planned for 2022. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic era due to increased rates of domestic violence and a person’s isolation with their perpetrators as a result of working from home.
- Department of Justice Canada worked to promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights and gender equality both at home and abroad. Internationally, the department co-hosted a Global Week for Justice in October 2020 in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Open Government Partnership and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. The department chaired a Global Dialogue of Justice Leaders and delivered a Chair’s Statement that emphasized the need for international collaboration to achieve equitable access to justice for all. The department also participated in a panel discussion entitled “Justice for Women and Girls: Moving from Commitment to Action Amidst Covid-19” featured during the week’s events, which acknowledged the 20th anniversary of the WPS Resolution 1325 while recognizing that much remains to be done. Domestically, in March 2021 Department of Justice Canada published the 2020 State of the Criminal Justice System Report: Focus on Women and added a new Women’s theme to the online interactive State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard. Under each Dashboard theme, readers can find contextual information on how different populations interact with the criminal justice system as victims, survivors, accused and offenders.
- Several Canadian police officers worked directly in WPS-related roles through positions such as gender advisers or human rights mentors in various missions, including Haiti, Iraq, the West Bank and Ukraine. For example, the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOLCOPPS) selected Canadian police officer candidates for the position of police adviser in the Family Protection Unit in the last 2 calls for contributions. In this role, the incumbent advised and supported the Family Protection and Juvenile Department of the Palestinian Civil Police on family violence and juvenile justice issues. They provided knowledge and expertise that assisted the development of good practices, policies and procedures as well as training, while promoting gender equality and ensuring the rights of women and children are considered and respected.
- In Mali, the Justice, Prevention and Reconciliation project supported civil society organizations in providing legal assistance to protect and respect the rights of people affected by the crisis, particularly women and minors. For example, the project has:
- supported the creation of peace committees to ensure conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in the regions of Segou, Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao
- enabled the consultation of nearly 4,000 victims of the conflict on their perceptions, expectations and needs, which influenced the work of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and the national policy of reparation for the suffering of victims of human rights violations
- strengthened the mandate and functional work of the TJRC, leading to the strengthening of reconciliation and the right to the truth
- supported le Comité plaidoyer espoir Hope Advocacy Committee’s fight against the Loi d’entente nationale (“National Accord Law”); the Committee participated in national consultations and convinced the Government of Mali to make substantial amendments to the law before its enactment, taking into account the concerns of victims
“[Before,] conflicts were only managed by imams; but today, other actors (women and youth) participate in conflict management and speak up to express their needs before traditional leaders.”
“[W]omen know their rights, they are trained and there is understanding in the homes. Men used to prevent women from going out, participating in development activities and meeting in associations. But today there is a clear improvement.”
- Quotes on the satisfaction of leaders to see that a diversity of actors was involved in conflict resolution in the framework of the projectFootnote 14
- Through its successful campaigns for election at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Canada featured the importance of gender-responsive policies in response to crime, drug use and trafficking. Further, gender is a key priority for Canada as co-chair of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, and Canada amplified gender as a key priority in the first Virtual UN Counter-Terrorism Week.
- Canada’s contribution to the Her Voice, Her Rights project resulted in thousands of Afghan women and men being reached with gender-sensitive and gender-responsive messaging through radio communications and other alternative media. The project helped women build their confidence to take part in decision-making at home and within their communities. Several participants claimed that the radio programs had enabled friends and family members to reconsider their positions on girls’ education, child marriage and women’s involvement in the workplace, among other topics.
- Canada continued to implement the 5-year National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, a key tool in countering SGBV and sexual exploitation, including in fragile, conflict and post-conflict settings. As part of the National Strategy, Public Safety Canada supported 17 organizations in Canada that worked to prevent and address human trafficking and support at-risk populations by providing trauma-informed, gender-responsive and culturally relevant anti-human trafficking projects. Department of Justice Canada is also a partner in the National Strategy and provided annual funding ($1. 3M in 2021) to support projects that develop and enhance services for survivors of human trafficking. Department of Justice Canada supported the implementation of Canada’s human trafficking legal framework through ongoing training; developed tools, such as the 2015 Handbook for Criminal Justice Practitioners on Trafficking in Persons, which was cited by Canadian courts and is currently being updated; and is undertaking research to advance knowledge about human trafficking offences in the Criminal Code and the services available to survivors. Canada also continued to support the Canadian National Human Trafficking Hotline, a multilingual, 24/7, toll-free service that receives tips and refers victims and survivors of all forms of human trafficking to local law enforcement, emergency shelters, and other trauma-informed services and supports.
- CIRNAC and ISC strengthened their governance frameworks to advance the implementation of GBA Plus, ensuring decision-making considers how all policies, programs and initiatives will impact diverse groups of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, men and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. The 2 departments are also working collaboratively with Indigenous and federal partners on the co-development of Indigenous GBA Plus frameworks and tools respectful of distinctions. This will help leverage engagement mechanisms with Indigenous partners to define how best to include the diverse voices of Indigenous women, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, youth and other marginalized voices in policy-making, and ensure policies, programs and services are more inclusive and responsive to diverse Indigenous needs, worldviews and realities.
- ISC also addressed sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. After robust national consultations with First Nations and partners, the final amendment under Bill S-3 removing the 1951 cut-off was brought into force on August 15, 2019, thereby eliminating all known sex-based inequities in the registration provisions of the Act. It is estimated that between 270,000 and 450,000 women and their descendants could become registered and, as a result, gain access to a range of health, social, and economic benefits and services. As of April 2022, more than 28,152 individuals were newly registered, and more than 6,000 applications are being processed. In line with the new provisions, the registration categories of 125,000 already registered individuals were amended and, in doing so, 57,000 individuals are now able to pass entitlement on to their descendants.
- Despite efforts from some participating states to limit advancing commitments on gender equality and WPS at the OSCE, Canada continued to advocate for its inclusion. In 2020, a group of 52 states issued a joint statement to mark 20 years since the adoption of UNSC resolution 1325, and Canada was instrumental in engaging with various states to ensure the broadest adoption possible. In addition, Canada continued to support the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which considered gender dimensions in its monitoring work.
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—ProtectDefenders.eu 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:
- All humanitarian projects supported by GAC were informed by gender-based analysis, and due diligence on proposals was conducted by internal gender equality specialists on all initiatives. 97% of Canada’s humanitarian assistance projects integrated gender equality considerations in 2020. Canada’s humanitarian assistance programming included un-earmarked support to agencies with protection mandates such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which included prevention, mitigation and response to sexual violence and gender-based violence as central aspects of their activities.
- In 2020, Canada provided a total of $41.7M to support the work of humanitarian partners in SRHR, including $4.65M in multi-country funding to the UNFPA. This supported the UNFPA’s operations in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Yemen to provide emergency obstetric care and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, provide protection from and response to SGBV, and foster access to supplies and commodities.
- As global lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (Call to Action) in 2020, Canada led the development of a 2021 to 2025 strategic road map that strengthened the Call to Action’s focus on gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, intersectionality, SRH services, localization and accountability. Canada reaffirmed its support for the Call to Action and made new commitments for the road map focusing on localization, multi-year humanitarian funding for GBV, and advocacy for the integration of GBV risk-mitigation actions in humanitarian programming. In 2020, Canada also published a joint statement on behalf of all Call to Action partners on GBV & COVID-19.Footnote 15 This was a key advocacy tool to influence the prioritization of GBV in humanitarian responses.
- From 2016 to 2021, Canada supported the Canadian Red Cross project Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Mali, which provided SRH services, including family planning, for women and girls. Activities in 2020 to 21 included the installation of solar panels, which allowed facilities to offer longer service hours at maternity clinics, and the installation and refurbishment of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that reduced time and effort for women collecting water by reducing the time and effort it requires.
- In Haiti, Canada’s support in 2020:
- enabled 19,807 women and 10,886 men in Artibonite, and 29,532 women and girls and 11,724 men in the other 4 departments, to be sensitized on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
- promoted the regulation of the midwifery profession
- increased coverage of midwifery needs by 23%
- provided more than 20,879 prenatal consultations
- helped 35,315 women and girls to deliver
- provided higher education to 159 young girls
- strengthened the quality of services offered by 37 emergency obstetric care health centres and trained more than 400 staff members of these centres and beneficiary women’s organizations
- To advance its commitment to gender-responsive humanitarian action, Canada was a member of the steering committee of the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation (IAHE) on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls. This was the first thematic evaluation commissioned by the IAHE Steering Group to improve gender equality in humanitarian action. The findings and recommendations from the evaluation were a useful tool to influence the humanitarian system to better meet the needs and priorities of women and girls and to promote accountability.
- In 2020 to 21, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) supported 6 humanitarian and emergency response projects that met the specific needs of women and girls. In addition to regular CFLI funding, the CFLI included a humanitarian reserve to respond to sudden onset emergencies through direct funding to local partners. For example, following the devastating impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala in November 2020, a CFLI project provided food, personal care and hygiene kits to Indigenous families in the Nimlajacoc, Alta Verapaz region. While benefits are usually provided to men in these communities, this project aimed to provide benefits directly to women, including providing culturally pertinent clothing to 340 women who lost all possessions during the disaster.
- In the province of Kasai-Central, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the initiatives implemented advocacy and awareness-raising activities that led to a firm commitment signed by 64 traditional, political and religious authorities prohibiting any marital union of children, the registration of underage marriages, and degrading practices toward GBV victims.
- The Inter Pares SRHR project in Sudan supported women and girls in realizing their rights, despite an economic crisis, COVID-19 and a resurgence in SGBV. With Canada’s support, the project collaborated with obstetricians and gynecologists to produce videos on reproductive health issues; provided legal services and psychosocial counselling for 208 women who experienced violence; and reached 1,000,000 users through SMS messages to increase knowledge and awareness of SGBV. Canada also facilitated a greater collaboration between government and civil society through this project as an MOU was signed between a local partner, Sudanese Organization for Research and Development, and the Combatting Violence Against Women Unit within the Ministry of Social Development.
- Through its support to Ipas, Canada supported the rights of women and girls to access health care, particularly after their rights were violated by instances of SGBV. With Canada’s support, 10,494 contraception services were provided to women and girls across Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in 2020.
- ISC recognizes the need for distinctions-based approaches to women’s issues and, as such, identified funding for the Native Women’s Association of Canada to cover a broad range of health and wellness priorities and outcomes, including elements of a Resiliency Centre pilot project. ISC also worked with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada to identify and develop Inuit-specific approaches to community-based health and wellness initiatives for Inuit women and girls.
- Culturally safe SRH care was identified as a key priority of the Indigenous-led Advisory Committee on Indigenous Women’s Wellbeing, which advises ISC, CIRNAC, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and WAGE. The Committee’s advocacy influenced Budget 2021 investments, which include $33.3M to improve access to culturally safe services, such as expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives.
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:
- The CAF continued to eliminate known barriers to women’s participation in military operations by conducting a GBA Plus to ensure a more inclusive design for future Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ships. The new ships included gender-inclusive washrooms and showers, and modularized mess decks (sleeping quarters) to minimize numbers within group sleeping arrangements. These improvements to future fleets will facilitate the deployment of more women on RCN ships. It will also positively impact RCN’s women career progression since deployment on ships is key for advancement of personnel in naval occupations.
- In 2020 to 2021, Canada significantly increased representation of women in top military positions in Canada and abroad:
- the top military representative to NATO was a woman lieutenant-general
- Canada deployed a woman major-general to command the NATO mission in Iraq
- the first woman to lead the Royal Military College in Kingston assumed command in 2021
- the CAF appointed its first woman Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and first woman Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture
- the CAF WPS Champion assumed the Deputy Chief Military Personnel position, following her fellowship with the Centre of International Defence and Policy at Queen’s University, where she conducted research focused on the WPS agenda related to diversity, inclusion, and culture change initiatives
- In Iraq, Canada led by example on advancing women’s leadership and the WPS agenda. Canadian Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan was in command of the NATO Mission in Iraq (NMI) from November 2019 to November 2020. Through her outstanding leadership, skills and expertise, she effectively modelled the value of deploying women in senior defence and security roles. The Canadian NMI gender adviser delivered training to senior non-commissioned members of the Iraqi Army on how they could protect groups in vulnerable situations. Additionally, the Canadian NMI gender adviser also acted as an adviser and supported the Gender Unit within the Ministry of Defense in its work on the revised Iraqi National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on WPS. Canada has also deployed men and women military gender advisers to Operation Inherent Resolve (the Coalition) and NMI. In June 2021, NMI, the Ministry of Defense and the Canadian Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security delivered “Train-the-Trainer Course for Mainstreaming Gender Perspective in Defense” to senior faculty members of Iraq’s defense learning institutions.
- Through leadership from Canada and Uruguay, a new mixed-gender “engagement platoons” capability was created for UN infantry battalions to increase situational awareness and outreach with local populations. This was done by supporting the Reducing the Barriers to Women’s Participation in UN Peace Operations project funded through the UN departments of Operational Support and Peace Operations. Canadian support included acting as co-chair of the working group and providing financial and expert contributions. Canada also supported the integration of 15 WPS core indicators into the UN Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System. This enabled more accessibility and interoperability of WPS data and analysis, centralizing WPS as a key pillar to measure peacekeeping effectiveness.
- 42 Canadian police officers deployed to peace operations/missions in FY 2020-21, and of the 42 deployed officers, 14 were women. These numbers were lower than past years due to the global pandemic. Two of the deployed officers had primary duties related to gender issues and 2 others have contributed to activities or participated in committees related to gender issues, but not as a primary role.
- The CPA deployed 2 gender advisers to the Canadian Police Mission in Ukraine (CPMU), who provided guidance on gender and protection issues. These deployments ensured that proper engagements were undertaken to support gender-sensitive programming and WPS initiatives. For example, the gender advisers participated in monthly round-table meetings with NATO partners as well as local ministerial representatives to advise on CPMU activities as they relate to advancing UNSCR 1325 objectives, and assisted in organizing and participated in the annual conference of the Ukrainian Association of Women in Law Enforcement (UAWLE).
- Through PSOPs’ support for the Peace Operations Training Institute (POTI), 3,322 peace operations personnel participated in courses developed by POTI and UN Women focusing on implementation of the WPS Agenda. Through after-course surveys, 99% of 856 people who answered a follow up survey self-reported using the knowledge gained in these courses in their deployment in a UN, African Union, EU or hybrid peacekeeping operation.
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:
- WAGE continued to serve as a centre for excellence on GBA Plus, building capacity through training and resources and facilitating knowledge exchange of promising practices. WAGE provided technical advice on the application of GBA Plus among various domestic and international partners and stakeholders to ensure that all plans, programs and/or initiatives and peace support operations are responsive to and inclusive of diverse needs.
- GBA Plus remained a critical tool to effectively implement the Action Plan:
- The RCMP appointed a GBA Plus expert to the RCMP senior executive committee to ensure GBA Plus is integrated throughout decision-making. A GBA Plus network was also established to enhance the GBA Plus capabilities and application of gender mainstreaming across the organization.
- The overwhelming majority of staff in GAC’s PSOPs (77.1% of those who reported) and those deployed (100% in total) have completed GBA Plus and/or at least 1 course on gender.
- All mission staff working on the CFLI program were required to take gender training to strengthen their ability to evaluate proposals through a gender lens and to enhance the gender equality outcomes of CFLI programming. In 2020 to 2021, 99% of CFLI program managers and coordinators at missions accredited to FCAS reported that they had completed gender training. Availability of GBA Plus training materials online and regular messaging from HQ to missions on the importance of gender training contributed to this 23% increase in compliance when compared with 2019-20 data. As one officer noted, “Having a team that has completed gender training means we are able to guide new partners through the required gender-based analysis component, and consistently review programming with a GBA Plus lens.”
- The WAGE GBA Plus online training remained a mandatory pre-requisite for all CAF leadership courses and for deployment in operations as well as for all senior leaders within the CAF. All personnel selected for operational deployment received pre-deployment briefings and training on gender perspectives and GBA Plus.
- The Gender Equality Division at GAC provided strategic guidance and technical support to bilateral and multilateral development programming, including in FCAS, and corporate processes. For example, a gender equality implementation guide was developed to direct staff to 4 different gender equality toolkits, tailored to the 4 programming pillars of the Middle East regional strategy (development assistance, humanitarian assistance, security and stabilization, and diplomatic engagement). These toolkits included advice on how to support women and girls as powerful agents of change by suggesting ways to amplify their voices in decision-making, leadership, and peace and security efforts. Moreover, the Gender Equality division provided significant gender equality input and advice as a member of the Ethiopia program’s Conflict Crisis Working Group and developed 2 key gender equality guidance notes in support of the response to the Tigray Crisis.
- WAGE worked with the RCMP to support the Sexual Assault Review Team (SART)Footnote 22 in the development and launch of courses for SGBVFootnote 23 for all RCMP employees and officers. These trainings reinforced the use of a trauma-informed approach and promoted an understanding of victims’ and survivors’ rights, consent law and the devastating effects of myths pertaining to sexual assaults.
- In the International Crime and Terrorism Bureau at GAC, all officers (100%) completed the required GBA Plus training. Throughout various additional trainings, officers explored important concepts such as gender mainstreaming, gender equality, intersectionality and the Feminist International Assistance Policy in relation to their work. As a result, these trainings provided the opportunity for individual officers to increase their gender knowledge and analysis capacities and further empowered them to integrate gender, WPS and related considerations into their work, including the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building and Anti-Crime Capacity Building programs’ programming.
- Canada also worked to strengthen the coordination group of gender equality advisers in the Middle East region. This coordination group supported annual work planning activities and programming to advance gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment under Canada’s Middle East Strategy, including ensuring that the fluid security dynamics that can intensify the prevalence of SGBV are recognized and addressed in the region.
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:
- include age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education; reproductive health services;
- family planning services, including contraception;
- safe and legal abortion services and post-abortion care;
- prevention and management of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections;
- prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including the prevention of harmful practices such as child and early forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting and the provision of psycho-social services for SGBV survivors;
- training of health-care professionals in the provision of sexual and reproductive health-care services and family planning;
- advocacy activities of women’s, youth, Indigenous and LGBTQ2I civil society groups;
- addressing social norms that limit women’s and adolescents’ control over their bodies and reproductive decision-making; and
- removal of judicial and legal barriers to the fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
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.
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).
- increased and meaningful participation of women and women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state-building
- prevention of, response to and the end of impunity for sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated in conflict and for sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other international personnel
- promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights, gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in FCAS
- meeting the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings, including the upholding of their sexual rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services
- strengthened 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
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.
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
- consult and cooperate with CSOs in Canada and locally on WPS and Action Plan implementation
- conduct pre-deployment training for military, police and civilian experts on gender and WPS, including preventing SEA
- develop a Canadian action plan to address SEA committed by peacekeepers
- take measures to increase the number of Canadian women (military, police and civilian experts) available for deployment to multilateral peace operations and other stabilization efforts
- ensure that GBA Plus is undertaken and incorporated into policies, strategies, programs, projects and initiatives
- learn from domestic policies and programs such as countering radicalization to violence and preventing GBV
- engage with women’s rights CSOs and government officials responsible for gender issues in scoping and assessment missions
- make WPS and gender expertise available to staff working within and in relation to FCAS
- enhance training on gender, GBA Plus and the specific needs of women and girls in situations of conflict for staff working within and in relations to FCAS
- incorporate the Action Plan into departmental planning and reporting frameworks
- table annual Action Plan progress reports in Parliament
- conduct independent mid-term and summative Action Plan evaluations
- make use of available research and guidelines, including by CSOs, the UN, academia and other states, to ensure the adequacy of intervention
- monitor activities to evaluate efficiency and increase evidence-based interventions
Diplomacy and political leadership
- advocate at all levels to advance the WPS agenda in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums
- cooperate with national and international actors and courts to end impunity for conflict-related sexual and gender-based crimes and bring perpetrators to justice
- demonstrate leadership by, for example, recruiting more women to the CAF and addressing workplace sexual harassment
- collaborate with other states and through participation in bilateral and multilateral forums on policy development, including to ensure that the agenda responds to the changing nature of conflicts
- consult with CSOs to ensure the adequacy of interventions and their participation in regional and international peace and security meetings
- engage men and boys, alongside women and girls, as agents and beneficiaries of change in advancing the WPS agenda
- assist national authorities, community leaders and other actors in exerting influence over parties to armed conflict with respect to addressing sexual violence
- advocate for a more active role by national, local and community leaders in sensitizing communities on sexual violence to help prevention, avoid stigmatization of survivors and assist with social reintegration
- nominate women for senior posts in the UN and other multilateral organizations
- promote the WPS agenda in the international community’s response to migration and refugees
- advocate for initiatives that address unequal power relations in FCAS, including girls’ access to education and women’s economic empowerment
- provide targeted support for WPS projects and mechanisms and mainstream WPS and gender into international assistance including:
- support women’s participation in conflict resolution
- prevent, mitigate and respond to SGBV in conflict, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and cutting
- support local women’s CSOs, including human rights defenders, Indigenous people and women in all their diversity
- increase gender expertise and representation of women in international peace operations
- provide support for gender-responsive security sector reform
- improve women’s access to justice in FCAS and provide gender-responsive legal technical assistance and support for justice sector reform
- assist the UN and other international organizations in carrying out WPS and gender-transformative programming
- facilitate the development and implementation of national action plans to implement WPS
- promote access to sexual and reproductive health services in conflict and humanitarian settings
- engage men and boys in advancing the WPS agenda
- address gender dimensions and women’s participation in counterterrorism efforts and prevention of violent extremism and radicalization to violence
- give special consideration to women and girls in refugee protection and Canada’s immigration processing, programs and services
- take gender-responsive approaches to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, to transitional justice and reconciliation, to small arms and light weapons, to mine action and to human trafficking
- support women’s economic empowerment and girls’ education in FCAS
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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