WPSN-Canada contributes to global monitoring effort on women, peace and security

by Kristine St-Pierre, WPSN-C Steering Committee Member

On October 29, 2014, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) based in New York will launch its annual civil society monitoring report on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

The reporting initiative, which began in 2010, is a monitoring initiative that enables civil society to compare the level of implementation of Resolution 1325 across a number of countries (click here for previous reports and list of contributing countries).

The reports are based on three themes – participation, prevention and protection, and the promotion of a gender perspective. Key indicators include women’s participation in governance and the justice and security sectors, the number and quality of gender-responsive laws, as well as allocated and disbursed funding marked for women, peace and security programs within government and to civil society.

Canada’s contribution to this year’s report looks at data for 2013. Where available, data for 2014 was also included, but until August only.i

Overall, the Canadian chapter notes that there has been slight progress from the previous year on some indicators, including women’s participation in governance and in the justice and security sectors. The data also show slight progress in terms of addressing sexual and gender-based violence in Canada, especially within Canada’s security sector.

However, the report finds that this progress is largely overshadowed by an absence of a strong commitment on behalf of the Government of Canada to ensure that women’s equality and the protection and empowerment of women and girls are front and centre in both domestic and foreign policy decisions and programs. In other words, the progress highlighted by the data is – in most instances – not part of a larger plan or commitment towards gender equality in governance, but more of a minor concern.

In addition, while the reporting period benefitted from the publication of two Government of Canada progress reports on its National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of 1325 (for fiscal years 2011/12 and 2012/13), the absence of targets within the NAP itself made it impossible to assess whether progress had indeed been made.ii

Still, there is reason to be optimistic. The findings seem to point to an increase in discussion within Canada around gender equality, including the importance of women’s representation in governance (as well as other fields of work) and the consequences of a the absence of women from political decision-making, as well as the unequivocal need to address violence against women in Canada.

In fact, the first part of 2014 saw important developments from public debates on women experts (led by TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin) and women in the judiciary (triggered by comments by Canadian Federal Justice Minister Peter McKay) to high-profile reports on missing and murdered aboriginal women and on sexual violence in the Canadian military.

While it is too early to speculate on their impact, it will be interesting to see whether and how these seemingly separate events can together lead to more concrete actions by the government on women’s rights issues – both within Canada and in our foreign policy – in the near future.

The link to the Canadian chapter of the 2014 GNWP Civil Society Monitoring Report will be posted on our site as soon as it is available.

i For example, recent developments with regards to Canada’s involvement in the fight against ISIS as well as the $10 million commitment to address sexual and gender-based violence in Iraq and Syria will be part of next year’s reporting timeframe.

ii For a comprehensive analysis of Canada’s National Action Plan and progress reports, see Worth the Wait? Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan and Progress Reports on Women, Peace and Security, May 2014

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