The Inter-Council Network celebrates Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy

Posted June 12th 2017

On June 9, 2017, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, officially launched Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy.

The new vision of the policy aims to position Canada as a leader on gender equality through its aid programming.

“Focusing Canada’s international assistance on the full empowerment of women and girls is the most effective way for our international assistance to make a difference in the world,” said Minister Bibeau during the announcement.

“Sustainable development, peace and growth that works for everyone are not possible unless women and girls are valued and empowered.”

Many elements of the new International Assistance Policy reflect the voice and recommendations of the Inter-Council Network (ICN) and the nearly 400 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that the ICN represents across Canada.

This includes the following key recommendations made in the ICN National Submission to the International Assistance Policy Review in 2016.

Janice Eisenhauer, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a non-profit organization that focuses on advancing educational opportunities for Afghan women and educating Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan, is encouraged by the announcement.

“This policy looks beyond the human capital of this country to find solutions to overcome barriers to the advancement of women, and more to the human capital of the host country to find solutions to problems they are more intimately familiar with,” Eisenhauer said.

The ICN commends the launch of this new policy, and remains hopeful Canada will increase its overall contribution to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to meet the international target of 0.7% of Gross National Income. Currently, Canada contributes 0.2% of Gross National Income to ODA.

In Minister Bibeau’s announcement of the policy, she challenged CSOs to consult with and involve local women in the decision-making and implementation of programs, as well as to share with pride the successes and lessons learned from these programs.

“Requiring all CSOs working in international cooperation to adopt a gender-based approach is a win for equality; a win for justice; and a win for everybody,” said Jocelyn Leblanc, a youth delegate from the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation.

The new International Assistance Policy outlines six interlinked areas of action, with a major crosscutting focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls:

  • Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls

  • Human dignity

  • Growth that works for everyone

  • Environment and climate action

  • Inclusive governance

  • Peace and security

The policy will be supported by a new Women’s Voice and Leadership Program, which will receive $150 million over five years to respond to the needs of local women’s organizations in developing countries, working to advance the rights of women and girls and promote gender equality.

All six areas of action are set to be supported by additional funds announced previously this year, including $650 million for sexual and reproductive health and rights, a $100 million fund for Small and Medium-Sized CSOs, and $2.65 billion pledged at the Paris Climate Agreement.

Minister Bibeau recognized in her announcement the need for passion and commitment to international assistance, and how it is in the interest of all Canadians.

“The ICN hopes to continue its collaboration with Global Affairs Canada in the process of putting policy to action, together ensuring that a comprehensive public engagement policy and strategy is an integral component of this new feminist IAP, ” said Heather McPherson, executive director of the Alberta Council for International Cooperation.

More information on Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy can be found here