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Gender Equality Week & the Feminist International Assistance Policy

Gender Equality Week 

In the context of international development work, gender might seem like an abstract concept, but a focus on gender equality can help advance Canada’s international assistance efforts in tangible ways. Moving forward, Canada continues to demonstrate and reinforce its commitment to promoting gender equality through the newly issued Gender Equality Week Act. According to this Act, the fourth week of each September will now be Gender Equality Week.

The Minister of Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, describes gender equality as being imperative to the aims of the current government. She identifies the growth of the economy among its outcomes, and anticipates that Gender Equality Week will prompt “Canadians from coast to coast … [to] engage in conversations and activities to advance gender equality in their communities.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, referred to Gender Equality Week as a “chance to celebrate gender equality as a key to Canada’s success.” His statement offered a nod to this year’s theme: Gender equality benefits everyone. Echoing Monsef, Trudeau emphasized the economic benefits of gender equality and pointed to financial support that the Government of Canada offers for gender equality initiatives.

Feminist International Assistance Policy

One instance of support for gender equality is the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). Through this policy, Canada seeks to model a new way of implementing international assistance, and to strengthen the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The core action area of the FIAP is “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” The five other action areas highlight the mutual dependence of inclusive governance, environment and climate action, security, and human dignity. The FIAP situates women and girls in positions of power. It gives them the opportunity to participate in the global community and strengthen Canada’s international assistance.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is noteworthy for its financial support of international assistance initiatives that engage with gender equality through the FIAP. Under the GAC’s Civil Society Partnerships Policy, the Government of Canada has launched the Small and Medium Organizations for Impact and Innovation initiative. By allocating $100 million over five-years (2017-2022) this initiative encourages the development and implementation of programs that address the action areas outlined under the FIAP. The successful proposals under this initiative include projects that aim to enhance mother, newborn, and child health in remote areas, those addressing the nutrition of women of reproductive age, and others that hope to give women the tools to participate in democratic processes.

Gender equality is a key component of effective international development. By recognizing the power of women and girls to participate in building their communities, the Government of Canada and Global Affairs Canada send a powerful message to civil society. The funding available through the Small and Medium Organizations for Impact and Innovation initiative proves that with access to financial support great strides can be made toward the advancement of gender equality, at home and abroad.

Read Stories on International Development Gender Equality Initiatives

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Written by Gurleen Grewal, BCCIC Public Engagement Writing Volunteer