Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN Gender Pledge

September 2018


Canada is committed to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including the promotion and protection of their human rights. Gender equality is at the heart of Canada’s Foreign Policy, International Assistance Policy, and Defence Policy. Gender equality has also been affirmed as a priority of the UN, notably in the 2030 Agenda, Security Council Resolution 1325 and related resolutions, and the Secretary General’s gender parity strategy. Domestically, the Government of Canada is committed to providing a work environment where women are welcomed, supported and respected.

In Canada and elsewhere, gender equality is recognized as a human right and an essential component of peace, security, development, and economic prosperity. Yet, the objective of gender equality is far from being achieved, and in some quarters neglected or actively undermined. The Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN (Permanent Mission) must therefore be at the forefront of efforts to uphold and promote gender equality.

Gender equality must not only be affirmed in policy, but must also be articulated in practice. How Canada carries out its work at the UN, in its very working methods in all areas of policy, should reflect and reinforce its commitment to gender equality. Mainstreaming gender into the working methods of the mission will also help ensure it is consistently reflected in policies.

This gender pledge sets out specific commitments and key actions on gender equality for the Permanent Mission. Achieving gender equality is not the sole responsibility of gender experts but of everyone – men and women alike. The Permanent Mission gender pledge is therefore signed by the Mission leadership and made the responsibility of all staff.

The gender pledge builds on, and is consistent with, the Public Service Employment Act the Employment Equity Act, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the GAC Values and Ethics Code, the Code of Conduct for Canadian Representatives Abroad, and the Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution.

1.  Staffing and Representation

2. Management

  1. The Permanent Mission leadership will regularly communicate to all staff the priority of gender equality.
  2. The Permanent Mission will enforce a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. Furthermore, employees will be encouraged to report sexual harassment and be provided with a confidential mechanism to do so.
  3. The Permanent Mission will regularly conduct a gender audit every two years to assess and review the differential impact of working methods and working conditions on men and women, to encourage work-life balance, and to review the institutionalization of gender equality in the policies, programs, structures, and interactions of the mission.
  4. The Permanent Mission will hold an annual unconscious bias awareness training for all staff.
  5. The Permanent Mission will include gender criteria under Public Service Performance Management (PSPM) objectives and competencies.
  6. The Permanent Mission will highlight the role of women and efforts to mainstream women’s rights and gender equality in its awards and recognitions (formal and informal).
  7. The Permanent Mission will encourage the adoption of practices to enhance work-life flexibility, including: 1) early information and advance notice of meetings to enhance predictability and planning; 2) avoiding calling meetings during early mornings, evenings, weekends and public holidays; 3) supporting women and men who require flexible work arrangements, including for family responsibilities; 4) supporting parental leave by men and women; and 5) advocating for official UN meetings to respect regular working hours. 

3. Policy

  1. The Permanent Mission will integrate GBA+ in all analysis of Canadian and UN policy and programming, in order to further gender mainstreaming and to contribute to the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
  2. The Permanent Mission will proactively identify opportunities to promote gender equality in the General Assembly, the Security Council, ECOSOC, and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as other UN conferences and subsidiary bodies.
  3. The Permanent Mission will consistently advocate for strong language on gender equality and women’s empowerment in resolutions, statements, and side events.
  4. The Permanent Mission will regularly consult with women’s groups and groups promoting gender equality and the human rights of women and girls on the full range of policy areas, not simply those directly on the topics of gender equality and women’s rights. 

4. Communications

  1. The Permanent Mission will highlight Canada’s commitment to gender equality in communication products.
  2. The Permanent Mission will ensure visuals and photos in communications products have appropriate gender balance.
  3. All counterparts, regardless of gender, will be offered similar honorifics.
  4. Unnecessary gendered terminology will be avoided in all communications.
  5. All events (not official UN meetings) of three or more speakers organized by the Permanent Mission will have balanced gender representation.
  6. Permanent Mission staff will encourage appropriate gender balance in the organization of events, decline to participate in events of three or more speakers where no good faith effort has been made to ensure gender representation, or otherwise highlight if there is a lack of gender representation in their statements during events.
  7. The Permanent Mission will be mindful of the equitable allocation of speaking time and roles between men and women. 

5. Review

  1. An Ambassador rank focal point on gender equality supported by an expert-level officer of a different gender will be appointed by the Head of Mission for a term of two years. The focal point will be responsible for providing guidance on enhancing gender equality at the Mission and tracking progress on the implementation of the gender pledge.
  2. Gender pledge commitments will be reviewed on an annual basis by the focal point in cooperation with mission leadership, and in consultation with mission staff, to make appropriate adjustments.
  3. The focal point will be responsible for drafting an annual report on the implementation of the gender pledge. The report will, inter alia, document the number, seniority, and responsibilities of staff, broken down by gender. The findings of this report, including tracking data on year to year changes, will be shared with all staff and with Headquarters.
  4. Best practices on advancing gender equality will be shared with other Canadian and UN Permanent missions, to encourage the development, improvement, and implementation of gender pledges.

6. Approval

  1. The gender pledge will be signed by all incoming ambassadors.
  2. All Permanent Mission staff will be required to read the gender pledge. 



Marc-André Blanchard
Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Louise Blais
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative

Richard Arbeiter
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative

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