The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

CBA welcomes first feminist international assistance policy

August 25 2017 25 August 2017

The CBA’s International Initiatives Committee applauds the federal government’s July announcement of a new feminist international assistance policy.

In a letter to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Committee Chair, commended the government on its focus on inclusive governance, and gender equality.

“We share your view that the empowerment and promotion of the rights of women and girls is essential to achieving respect for human rights and is a matter of justice,” wrote Daphne Dumont, Q.C., noting that the new policy will also address many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “With this new international assistance policy, Canada is well positioned to bring its experience and knowledge to support the poorest and most vulnerable by addressing the root causes of inequality.”

The new policy responds to longstanding evidence that educating and supporting the rights of women and girls is a sure path to economic and political stability. A 2008 OECD report quotes an even earlier World Bank statement that says, “Focusing on women in development assistance can achieve more rapid and pro-poor economic growth than “gender neutral” approaches. Because of their essential contributions to household welfare, both unpaid and paid, women are key to poverty reduction in developing countries. Investing in women and girls – in their education, health, and access to assets and jobs – has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth in developing countries (World Bank, 2006).”

The policy lays out six priority areas: gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will be the core area, with attention paid to reducing violence, supporting programs that advance women’s rights, and improving government’s capacity to provide services to women and girls; promoting human dignity by supporting access to health care, nutrition and education; fostering growth that works for everyone; promoting environment and climate action; supporting inclusive governance; strengthening peace and security.

The policy is the result of consultations with more than 15,000 people in 65 countries, but remains true to Canadian values, Bibeau said in making the announcement.

“Canada is adopting a Feminist International Assistance Policy to promote gender equality and help empower all women and girls,” Bibeau said. “For Canada, this is the most effective approach to reducing poverty and building a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world.”

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