Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
On Friday June 9th, 2017, after a year of extensive consultation with over 15,000 people in Canada and in 65 countries around the globe, Global Affairs Canada launched the Feminist International Assistance Policy. “Canada is adopting a feminist international assistance policy to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This is the most effective approach for Canada to reduce poverty and to build more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world.”
The Feminist International Assistance Policy action areas were released in July 2019 and provide guidance to Global Affairs Canada staff and partners on what Canada aims to achieve in each of the action areas identified in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. The policies will guide Canada’s humanitarian, development and peace and security assistance and strengthen our ability to deliver on our commitment to leave no one behind.
The six action area policies are:
5 guiding principles
- Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- Canada’s Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
- Human rights and inclusivity
- Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness
- Reduce poverty by empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality
- Facilitate a safe and enabling environment for civil society
- Protect human life and dignity
- Foster CSOs leadership in innovation
- Integrate CSOs as independent CSOs into international assistance programming
- Establish more predictable, equitable, flexible and transparent funding mechanisms
- Foster multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance
- Engage Canadians in international assistance
- Promote sustainability, transparency, accountability and results
Government of Canada announces funding to support organizations accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Canada
May 20, 2020
The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presents Canada, and the world, with a historic opportunity to positively shape how societies of tomorrow grow and develop sustainably and inclusively for the shared benefit of all. It is a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The SDGs are of heightened importance given the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as we look to ways to protect against the long-term shocks that have impacted our economy, society, and environment and collectively turn our attention to rebuilding a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable Canada.
Our Response to the Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development’s Spring Report on Canada’s Preparedness to Implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
On Tuesday April 24, 2018, Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, released her Spring Audit including her Report on Canada’s Preparedness to Implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. While not surprised, we are gravely concerned and disappointed by the report’s findings that clearly indicate that the Government of Canada is not sufficiently prepared to implement the SDGs in Canada and abroad.
The report uses the recommended seven-step implementation model (right) to assess the Government of Canada’s preparedness to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It indicates some progress, largely in the step of Commitment and Responsibility—signaled by clear messaging that Canada is on board to implement the 2030 Agenda. It also notes some very limited progress in the step of Engaging and Consulting. For example, the report points to the extensive consultations that Global Affairs Canada conducted leading up to the release of their new Feminist International Assistance Policy in June 2017
Despite some success in these two steps (1 and 3), the report indicated failure in the other five steps of implementation including Establishing Governance, Planning, Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting. The report did note that Statistics Canada has developed a framework to collect data for measuring Canada’s progress towards the 2030 Agenda against the United Nations’ indicators, however, the results were not yet available at the time of the audit.
Comparing Canada’s preparedness to other countries, the report highlights successful examples of developing governance structures in Germany and Estonia and it references Switzerland for their success consulting and engaging many stakeholders. Germany and Switzerland are again mentioned for their successful development of implementation plans. Showing that other countries are much more prepared to achieve the 2030 Agenda indicates not only that it is possible to do better, but that we must do better.
The report acknowledged that in February the Government released its 2018 Budget, “which proposes to provide $49.4 million over 13 years, starting in 2018–2019, to establish a Sustainable Development Goals Unit and to fund monitoring and reporting activities by Statistics Canada.”
Indeed, in the official response issued on Tuesday from Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna; the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau; and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dominic LeBlanc stated that “The Government of Canada is fully committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), here in Canada and overseas” and that “an SDG unit will be created to support and help coordinate all these efforts.”
While such promises certainly point to where the Government needs to go, we are concerned that they will continue to communicate such commitments, while largely falling short of implementing the necessary steps towards their full implementation. Indeed, it is clear from both the findings and the recommendations in the Auditor’s Report that where the Government of Canada has made some progress is in the realm of commitments and acknowledgements of responsibility (though they could certainly do more here), and that where they are drastically failing is in all the subsequent steps required to bring the positive promises into concrete actions and outcomes.
In October 2017 ACGC hosted Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation & the Sustainable Development Goals, the first Canadian multi-stakeholder symposium on the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this year we released the Together 2017 Symposium Report. Recommendations included localizing the 2030 Agenda in partnership with provinces, territories, and municipalities as well as with non-state actors. Because non-state actors in Canada have been working to raise awareness of the SDGs, especially amongst youth, civil society and the private sector are well-placed to engage Canadians on the 2030 Agenda. Since leadership by the federal government is critical in this context of shared responsibility, it is important to align government efforts to the 2030 Agenda among the first steps in implementation as well as in decision making. The federal government should work more across levels of government and in partnership with non-state actors to engage Canadians further, including through the provision of strong financial support. Canada should play a stronger role in financing the 2030 Agenda at home and abroad through the strategic use of its development finance institution, and through regulatory changes that promote social enterprises and other alternative business models that promote sustainable development.
ACGC will be participating in the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York City this coming July. It is the main platform for reviewing the 2030 Agenda at the global level. This year Canada will present its first Voluntary National Review Report on its progress. ACGC will be watching closely to see how the government shares its progress.
The Government of Canada Announces Renewed Commitment to Achieving the SDGs: April 2018
On April 17, 2018 Global Affairs Canada announced a renewed commitment to developing a national strategy to advance the SDGs. The strategy includes launching the Voluntary National Review Web portal to invite Canadians to share their contributions to the SDGs at home and abroad. Read the full press release.
The Inter-Council Network Reacts to New Feminist International Assistance Policy
June 12, 2017 – The Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils for International Cooperation (ICN) commends Global Affairs Canada on the launch of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy (IAP), launched on 9 June 2017 by the Minister of International Cooperation and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau. A network of eight councils, representing nearly 400 civil society organizations (CSOs) from coast to coast to coast, the ICN appreciates the many elements of the IAP that reflect the voice and recommendations of CSOs and are encouraged by the commitment to a whole of Government approach to key global challenges.
The IAP echoes key recommendation made by the ICN National Submission to the International Assistance Review (IAR) including:
- Linkages to the Sustainable Development Goals,
- A human-rights based approach,
- A focus on the poorest and most vulnerable communities and moving towards a more flexible and responsive definition of geographic engagement,
- A commitment to take into account the perspective of those who receive assistance, consistent with the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Accountability Act
What does it mean to have a feminist approach? Read full FAQ’s
- Canada’s feminist approach means that we will place gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the centre of all our efforts. Based on the conviction that all people should enjoy the same fundamental human rights and be given the same opportunities to succeed, Canada will prioritize the investments, partnerships and advocacy efforts that have the greatest potential to close gender gaps, eliminate barriers to gender equality, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Concentrating Canada’s international assistance on the full empowerment of women and girls is the most effective way for our international assistance to achieve greater impact. Inclusive growth, development, and sustainable peace are not possible unless women and girls are valued and empowered. This means having control over their own lives and bodies, participating fully as decision-makers in their homes and societies, and equally contributing to and benefitting from economic opportunities.
- Agenda 2030 challenges the global community to once and for all put an end to pervasive gender inequalities, and Canada will rise to this challenge.
What is Canada’s financial contribution?
Canada’s international assistance envelope totals over $5 billion dollars a year. On a global scale, official development assistance (ODA) accounts for $140 billion dollars annually. When the needs for achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030 is between $5-7 trillion dollars. According to numbers presented in a OECD report in April 2017, Canada’s official development assistance shrunk by 4.4% in 2016, and represents only 0.26% of Canada’s GNI. Read more here.
As stated by Minister Bibeau, “It is essential that we increase government contributions, but is also especially important to stop up our efforts seek out new partners and new investors. We need to be more innovative, and even take a few calculated risks with very stringent monitoring.”
One way this will be achieved is through Canada’s new Development Finance Institution (DFI), announced in Montreal in 2016. The DFI will work to leverage commercial investment with the goal of generating inclusive growth. The DFI is expected to begin entering into deals in January, 2018. The DFI was a key recommendation by Engineers Without Borders. Read more about the DFI.
Canadians Are Back(ed)! Government Announces Renewed Partnership with Canadians on Global Cooperation
On May 10, 2017, Minister of International Cooperation and La Francophonie Marie Claude Bibeau announced a new $100 million fund for small and medium-sized organizations at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation’s Global Impact Soirée on 9 May 2017. This comes after almost three years of discussions with the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils for International Cooperation (ICN), and CCIC. The Councils, who represent close to 400 civil society organizations from coast to coast to coast, wholeheartedly welcome the announcement, which expresses and bolsters support for Canadians working on issues of poverty, sustainability, and human rights in a global context.
“Canada made a strong statement about our role in the world today,” remarked Michèle Asselin, Executive Director of l’Association québécoise des organismes de coopération international. ”From a feminist perspective we have a lot to offer internationally, to help transform the lives of women and girls.”
“This funding will empower Canadians from all regions of our country to deepen partnerships and scale up innovative efforts to help women and girls realize their rights, and to help communities address the most significant issues of our generation, like climate change,” concurs Kimberly Gibbons, Executive Director of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation.
The five-year, $100 million fund will be made available to small and medium-sized organizations using a two-pillared approach, one for responsive programming, and one for innovation to test ideas that resolve specific development challenges, particularly for initiatives that would support women and girls. According to Heather McPherson, the Executive Director of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, “Supporting the efforts of smaller organizations is an important step in leveraging the knowledge, passion, and commitment of everyday Canadians towards our collective responsibility of reducing inequality and ending poverty for the worlds’ most vulnerable populations.”
Dr. Zephania Matanga, Executive Director of the Canadian Multicultural Disability Center, a small-sized organization, and member of the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC), offers his congratulations to Minister Bibeau on providing a wonderful opportunity for small organizations to access resources to participate in the development of marginalized communities. “In Zimbabwe we could provide additional resources for education and healthcare for people with disabilities in rural areas,” states Dr. Matanga. “This will also enable the diaspora to participate in international cooperation.” According to the MCIC’s Executive Director, Janice Hamilton, “We know from research and experience that Canadians, through small and medium-sized organizations, have strong ties to their local partners overseas, as well as their own communities in Canada. They not only support the local communities to have access to water and sanitation in Cambodia, to improve maternal health in Afghanistan, and to assist farmers in Peru adapt to climate change, among others, but also share these stories and successes with their fellow Canadians.”
“It is a proud moment,” affirmed Janice, “and proof that government is taking a thoughtful, proactive yet timely approach to change. It is concrete proof behind the claim that Canada is back,” she concluded.