Gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls as well as the promotion and protection of their human rights are key Canadian values. Advancing gender equality supports long-term sustainable economic growth, social progress, and sustainable development. Gender equality can contribute to national, political, economic, social and cultural development.

Canada is committed to promoting these values through international development assistance and diplomatic advocacy. Advancing gender equality is at the heart of Canada’s international assistance. Canada integrates objectives to empower women in all of its development policies and programs and implements specific projects to achieve these goals. The protection and advancement of the human rights of women and girls remains a foreign policy priority for Canada. These discussions take place with other countries and in multilateral forums.

The Government of Canada put gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of its G7 presidency and worked to integrate this lens across all G7. To support this work, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau created the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency. The Council is comprised of 21 members from around the world representing diverse sectors, including government, the private sector, academia, civil society and youth. The Executive Summary of the Gender Equality Advisory Council’s Recommendations are here available.

The women, peace and security agenda is at the heart of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, which includes Feminist International Assistance Policy and Defence Policy. Armed conflict affects women, men, girls, and boys in different ways. Women and girls around the world face discrimination based on their gender. They are especially vulnerable in situations where they are displaced and/or become refugees. They are most vulnerable to conflict-related sexual violence. At the same time, women and girls play a key role in preserving their communities. Their economic and social responsibilities may increase in times of war. They often act as agents of peace, leading movements that eventually bring the warring parties to the negotiation table. It is often women who can broaden the agenda, address root causes of a conflict and increase community buy-in. Yet, women are frequently excluded from conflict resolution processes. On November 1, 2017, the Government of Canada launched Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2017-2022.

The action plan provides a framework for a cohesive whole-of-government approach to implement this important agenda and ensures that our activities in fragile and conflict-affected states align with our broader commitments such as: gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, respect for women’s and girls’ human rights, inclusion and respect for diversity. As part of the action plan, Canada will work to advance the women, peace and security agenda through all of its diplomatic and programming efforts. The Government of Canada has made a specific commitment to ensure that gender perspectives are integrated in all peace and security efforts.

Canada’s feminist foreign policy makes women a priority in all of its security-related activities, including peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping. Canada seeks to increase the participation of women in these activities and to provide a solid foundation for conflict prevention and recovery. This is why Canada has launched the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations. Through this initiative, Canada will work with the United Nations and international partners to develop and test innovative approaches aimed at overcoming barriers to the participation of women in police and military roles in UN peacekeeping operations. The initiative aims to create the conditions for the deployment and full participation of women in UN peacekeeping operations. A financial mechanism will also be created to incentivize the deployment of more women. As part of the Elsie Initiative, Canada will provide $6 million in assistance to designated UN missions to improve their ability to support and benefit from women’s increased participation in peace operations and $15 million in seed money for a global fund to support the deployment of women peacekeepers.