Language selection


The Women, Peace and Security Civil Society Leadership Award 2023 call for nominations - Conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based violence

Global Affairs Canada is issuing a call for nominations for the 2023 edition of Canada’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) civil society leadership award. This year’s theme addresses conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and gender-based violence (GBV), which are not only serious human rights violations, but also a threat to international peace and security and an impediment to women’s meaningful participation in related decision-making. Such violence inflicts long-term harm and trauma on survivors and communities.


United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 calls on us to recognize women as powerful agents of change. Far too often, the invaluable role that women play in ending and preventing conflict goes unnoticed.

In honour of the 20th anniversary of the resolution, Global Affairs Canada launched its WPS Award Program in 2020. These awards recognize those who have gone above and beyond to advance the WPS agenda by highlighting excellence in research and civil society leadership. The program includes a civil society leadership award led by Global Affairs Canada, and a research award led by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which distributes a separate call for applications.

Two recipients will be selected for Global Affairs Canada’s 2023 WPS Civil Society Leadership Award: one from the International Category (CRSV) and one from the National Category (GBV). Selection criteria and nomination process are outlined below.

Please note that the WPS civil society leadership award does not include a monetary prize. Recipients will be recognized in front of the global WPS community during a virtual award ceremony and will receive a certificate signed by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The work of recipients will also be showcased by Canada in various fora over the course of the following year.

Find additional information about past award recipients and annual themes.


Rates and risks of gender-based violence (GBV)Footnote 1, including sexual violence and intimate partner violence, remain high in Canada and globally. In Canada, for example, more than 11 million people aged 15 and over have experienced intimate partner violence at least once since the age of 15. Factors such as armed conflict, humanitarian crises, climate-related insecurity, political instability, natural or human-made disasters, and a wide range of socioeconomic and historical inequities account for the pervasiveness of GBV across societies and contexts.

Regardless of age, women, men, and gender diverse populations all face risks of GBV. However, women and girls, including diverse 2SLGBTQI+Footnote 2 youth, are primarily and disproportionately affected. In Canada, women and girls represent 69% of police-reported family violence victims.Footnote 3 Similarly, in fragile and conflict-affected settings, women and girls account for more than 94% of reportedFootnote 4 cases of sexual violence.Footnote 5

As just one form of GBV, instances of sexual violence with a direct or indirect link to conflict are referred to as conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). As defined by the United Nations, acts of CRSV can include rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls, boys, or gender diverse populations.Footnote 6

Gender inequality is both a root cause and an obstacle to effective CRSV prevention and response efforts. At the same time, CRSV is largely a result of aggravating factors such as the proliferation of arms, militarization of society, the breakdown of law and order, shrinking civic spaces, and overall institutional fragility perpetuating impunity. In recent years, these factors have been compounded by newly emerging and worsening threats including climate change, cyber insecurity, mis/disinformation, malign use of artificial intelligence, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

CRSV is addressed in all ten United Nations Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and is a critical aspect of the WPS agenda as a whole.Footnote 7 Whether against women, girls, men, boys, or gender diverse people, it continues to be used as a tactic of war. Motivated by political, military or economic objectives to control territory or resources, CRSV is frequently and deliberately used to target civilians, inflicting long-term trauma and humiliation, fracturing families and the social fabric, triggering displacement and fuelling activities by armed actors.Footnote 8 CRSV is not an inevitable by-product of war but rather a tool of war constituting a crime that is preventable and punishable under International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. 

Acts of GBV, including CRSV, inflict long-term and complex impacts on individuals, communities, and societies. Violence can have long-lasting negative health, social and economic effects that span generations, which can lead to cycles of violence and abuse within families and sometimes whole communities. These impacts are intensified further for individuals, including women, belonging to groups experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of oppressionFootnote 9, discrimination and marginalizationFootnote 10. In Canada, populations that are most at risk of GBV, or are underserved when they experience forms of GBV, include: Indigenous, Black, racialized, immigrant, refugee, and young women and girls; 2SLGBTQI+ people; women with disabilities; and women and girls living in northern, rural, and remote communities.Footnote 11

The trauma that can be caused to victims and survivors is exacerbated and compounded by limited access to medical, psycho-social, and legal services, persistent stigma and shame, continued impunity for these crimes, as well as lack of acknowledgement, justice, compensation, and other elements of reparation. Ensuring accountability and reparations for these acts and justice for victims and survivors can be difficult, and far too often remains unachieved. This can increase risks of revictimization, and in fragile and conflict-affected settings, can undermine reconciliation, transitional justice, and peacebuilding.

GBV remains one of the most widespread violations of human rights, a public health issue, a threat to peace and security, and a significant deterrent to gender equality and sustainable development. Ensuring the safety and security of women and girls in all their diversity and that of non-binary people from all forms of GBV and CRSV is crucial for their meaningful participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, reconciliation, and the full realization of their human rights. As such, the protection and participation of all women and girls, as well as 2SLGBTQI+ people are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. GBV against one holds entire communities back.  

Definition and eligible nominees

Global Affairs Canada welcomes nominations for its international and national categories of the WPS civil society leadership award until 11:59pm EST on 11 December 2023. Nominations under the International Category must meet the criteria of work addressing conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). Work addressing gender-based violence (GBV) more broadly will only be considered for Canadian nominations of the National Category.

Individuals cannot nominate themselves, however an organization or network may be nominated by one of its members. Please ensure that the nominee has agreed to being nominated and consents to publicly accepting the award, should they be selected. Any risks or sensitivities which may prevent this can be disclosed in the nomination form.

For the purposes of this call for nominations, the theme seeks to highlight the disproportionate impact of CRSV, and GBV more broadly in the Canadian context, on women and girls in all their diverse identities. It also seeks to underscore the need to address, end, and support victims and survivors of CRSV (and GBV in Canada), and the importance of women’s meaningful participation in decision-making spaces to advance these efforts.

The award will recognize work by individuals, networks, and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to advance:

These contributions can include, for example:

Selection criteria

The Award aims to recognize the important role that civil society plays in addressing the impacts of CRSV (and GBV in Canada), on diverse women and girls, and in increasing the meaningful participation of women and girls in decision-making processes and related efforts.

Candidates who fulfill the following criteria are eligible for nomination:

  1. Entity: Individuals, civil society organizations and networks are eligible. Organizations and networks outside Canada do not need to be legally incorporated to be eligible. Unless otherwise specified, candidates can be of any gender.
  2. Geographical scope: Nominees of the International Category must be from a fragile or conflict-affected setting or region, actively advancing the WPS agenda in a fragile or conflict-affected setting or region. The National Category is reserved for Canadian-based nominees only, who are actively advancing WPS within Canada.
  3. Achievement: The nominee has made an outstanding contribution to advancing a gender-responsive approach to addressing the impacts of CRSV (and GBV in Canada), and/or the active and meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes and related efforts. What defines “outstanding” is contextual, but, as a minimum, nominations must demonstrate tangible results that can have a positive impact towards peace.
  4. Leadership: The candidate has demonstrated leadership through concrete action, for example through collaboration, mobilization, initiative, innovation, or inspiring others through courage and commitment.
  5. Grassroots: The candidate is active at the grassroots (community or local) level. An example is an actor who works with members of local communities in an inclusive and participatory manner. An actor who is active at the grassroots level, but whose achievement is expressed at the national, regional or international level, is also eligible.
  6. Diversity: Preference may be given to candidates who face barriers to participation in peace and security efforts and decision-making processes due to race, colour, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, national or ethnic origin, religion, mental or physical disability, and the intersection of these or other identity factors.
  7. Indigenous teachings: Indigenous peoples have lived – and continue to live – in the land we now call Canada since long before the Europeans arrived. In recognition of their knowledge and values, the decisions of the selection committee will also be informed by the Indigenous teachings put forward by Indigenous members of the committee. For example, this could include the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings (bravery, honesty, humility, love, respect, truth, and wisdom).

Nomination process

To nominate individuals, organizations, or networks, email us at to receive the nomination form.

Applications should be submitted in electronic copy (MS Word or PDF). Submissions can be made in English or French.

Deadline: The deadline for nominations is 11:59pm EST on 11 December 2023.

Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, please contact us.

Date Modified: