By Doris Buss and Beth Woroniuk
The Canadian Government recently announced that it will contribute $5 million of the total $36 million promised by G8 countries to address sexual violence in armed conflict. This appears to be good news from a government that has largely had bad news for women’s rights at home and abroad. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird wants the world to recognize that Canada, and his office in particular, has taken a leadership role on addressing sexual violence and conflict. We want to applaud a leadership role for Canada and to celebrate this latest announcement – its been a long, dry spell for women’s rights advocates and we are thirsty for any good news – but before we do, we need to see evidence of that leadership. And so far, the Government has been shy about revealing what, if anything, it is doing.
In October 2010 Canada launched its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This Plan set out numerous commitments and actions. The Plan also promised annual progress reports. To date, there has been no reporting on actions taken, money spent or results achieved. Without this reporting, it is difficult to assess whether Canada’s claims to leadership are indeed justified.