Canada launches new feminist foreign assistance policy

After a year of extensive consultations with the Canadian civil society and the public at large, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, has launched a new feminist international assistance policy. With it, Canada joins a handful of countries who either have explicit feminist international development policies or gendered policies and plans, including Australia, Sweden, and Norway.

The new policy will apply a human rights-based approach to six core pillars:

  • Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
  • Human dignity (including health education, humanitarian assistance, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and food security)
  • Inclusive growth
  • Environment and climate change
  • Inclusive governance
  • Peace and security.

Other highlights  include:

  • By 2021-2022, “at least 95 percent of Canada’s bilateral international development assistance investments will either target or integrate gender equality or the empowerment of women and girls”.
  • Discontinuation of Canada’s “countries-of-focus”, shifting instead towards a regional allocation with a focus on least developed countries and by which no less than 50% of Canada’s bilateral international assistance will go to countries in sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-2022. The allocation strategy is to be released at a later date.

The policy does not come with a costed funding framework, and the Budget 2017 released this spring did not specify any new increases in spending. However, the government announced that it will contribute an additional CAD150 million (US$117 million) over five years to support local organizations that work to advance women’s rights in developing countries.   

Press release – Global Affairs Canada

Canada’s new international assistance policy – Government of Canada