I was pleased to be invited to the launch of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy on June 9. It was a proud moment for me, an immigrant in my chosen country, to be among an intimate group to hear the announcement from Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau. As the policy outlines, the federal government is reorienting public policy to put the security, rights, and economic empowerment of women and girls at the centre of its global aid strategy. I was especially proud because at Crossroads International we made the same choice more than a decade ago.
The policy promises to enhance the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls; increase the participation of women and girls in equal decision-making, particularly when it comes to sustainable development; and give women and girls more equitable access to, and control over, the resources they need to secure ongoing economic and social equality. These are the same tenets of our strategic plan!
The federal government has also committed to increase programs that will:
- Address sexual and gender-based violence and increase access to justice for victims
- Build capacity of local women’s organizations and movements and their work to advance legislation and policies that advance women’s rights
- Increase access to resources and growth for women including access to land; and improve economic opportunities for, and resilience of, rural women that take full account of impact on the environment and climate change
- Advance women’s leadership and decision-making in governance at all levels
- Effectively engage men and boys
In my partner visits this past year I saw example after example of innovative programming that is contributing greatly to each of these goals. Our work to advance women’s equality is benefiting whole communities.
Of course with this new mandate, more discussion of the myriad of details on how to implement a feminist international aid policy will be required. Crossroads International looks forward to working with the government and other stakeholders to facilitate a smooth implementation.
A key aspect of this implementation not yet accounted for however, is resourcing. Eighty percent of aid will go to the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls by 2021-22. This as well, is tremendous.
Yet the sum of this aid is not known. As I shared with you in advance 2017 federal Budget, Canada is on pace to have the lowest aid commitment of any Canadian government in half a century and has become a laggard among G7 countries when it comes to international aid. The most recent Budget did nothing to address this concern.
This Minister and the federal government have demonstrated courage and foresight in committing to a feminist international assistance policy. They must now back up their pledge with dollars. Investments spent wisely will realize greater gains and serve as stronger justification for the government’s strategy.
As a country we have a lot to celebrate on this our 150th birthday and this bold policy is one of them. Planning for the next federal Budget is about to get underway. Let’s ensure this time the government gets the message: brave words need bold actions; increase international aid spending now. The women and girls of the world are depending on us.
To read more about Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy visit http://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/policy-politique.aspx?lang=eng#1