Sweden and Canada: Feminist trailblazers but are they really promoting security for all?

Photo - WPS Panel
From left to right: Heather Grant, Ambassador of Canada to Sweden; Diana Sarosi, WPSN-C member; Annika Schabbauer, Director of Operation 1325 and Annika Söder, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sweden.

By Diana Sarosi, Manager of Policy at Oxfam Canada and WPSN-C Steering Committee member

In Stockholm, the Canadian Embassy in Sweden is well known for its November event on Women, Peace and Security. Organized in collaboration with Operation 1325, a Swedish civil society organization that monitors the implementation of the Swedish National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), the event brings together government officials and Swedish civil society to discuss the progress Sweden has made in implementing its NAP. This year, the event was slightly different. For the first time the Canadian embassy invited a Canadian civil society organization – the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada – to present its analysis of Canada’s progress internationally over the past year. And Canada has a lot to be proud of.

In June 2017, Minister of International Cooperation, Marie-Claude Bibeau, launched the groundbreaking feminist international assistance policy. The policy puts women’s rights and gender equality at the heart of Canada’s aid and prioritizes support to local women’s rights organizations. Then in November 2017, Canada released its long-awaited second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (CNAP). Continue reading “Sweden and Canada: Feminist trailblazers but are they really promoting security for all?”

International Human Rights Day: Peace and Unity in South Sudan

Inside South Sudan: Peace and Gender Based- Violence

WPCN-Canada spoke with Adit Abit, founder of the South Sudan Women’s Foundation (SSWF). Adit has been involved in various peace initiatives and community programs in British Columbia before she began her Master’s at the University of Ottawa. Adit started the South Sudan Women’s Foundation as a means of involving South Sudanese women in being active participants in nation building. Her passion for gender equality fuelled the start of the foundation. The goal is to lift the voices of women, to challenge war, social inequality, and poverty. She hopes to establish collaborative resource mobilization initiatives for the betterment of the South Sudanese community both locally and globally.

#16Days: Post-genocide Rwanda poses obstacles to women’s psychological health and well-being

By Christine Izere, student at the University of Ottawa, currently interning with the Women Peace and Security Network – Canada.

Twenty-three years ago my mother fled Rwanda in hopes of finding refuge elsewhere. Nothing could have prepared her for the psychological scars that she would face in the years to come. However, she is considered the lucky one, who had the privilege of resettling in Canada and the ability to build a new life.

The genocide in Rwanda was the culmination of a century of ethnic discrimination. Neighbours murdered neighbours; family members murdered family members. “Hutu extremists used sexual violence towards Tutsi women and girls systematically as a method of war, not only to inflict pain and humiliation but also to spread HIV and thus ensure the end of the Tutsi people.” 1 In the span of 100 days approximately one million Rwandan men, women and children were killed and over a million were displaced in neighbouring countries. Continue reading “#16Days: Post-genocide Rwanda poses obstacles to women’s psychological health and well-being”

#16Days: From Graves to Great; collective action builds feminist resistance in DRC

By Rebecca Boyce, Global Lead for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion for Cuso International and Steering Committee member of the WPSN-C

December 6th marks the fatal tragedy of the 1989 Montreal Massacre, a horrendous crime that left 14 Polytechnique students murdered and 9 injured because they were women. Shooter Marc Lépine, explicitly targeted women to express his hate for feminists and to make a point that women have no place in STEM.

This tragedy is included in the 16 days1 of activism as it allows us to remember and pay respect to those women who lost their lives. It also allows us to consider similar tragedies that have occurred since or are currently happening.

dec 6 photo 1For four years I was a gender equality advisor working in a humanitarian capacity in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), during that time it became clear to me that investing in women’s participation and rights is both important in preventing violence and conflict; and critical in promoting non-militarised solutions for sustainable peace. Continue reading “#16Days: From Graves to Great; collective action builds feminist resistance in DRC”

#16Days: Inclusive feminist lens

By Meenu Sikand, CEO & founder of AforA (Accessibility for All)

dec 3rd blog picIn April 2017, The department of Global Affairs Canada and The Women, Peace and Security Network-Canada (WPS-C) invited me to provide input in the renewal of Canada’s National Action Plan (CNAP). Recently, on November 1, 2017 the CNAP 2.0 was released. Being part of a 150 person strong, vocal, and passionate feminist group focusing on representing civil society and the government was an exhilarating and enlightening experience. However, on my first day, walking into the room, lack of representation from women with disabilities (WWD) was noticeable. During the consultations, there were intense debates to ensure a “feminist approach” is infused across all international assistance programs delivered by Canadian departments, such as Peace and Security programming, Disaster Management, Defence programs etc. With a steep learning curve to understand the CNAP framework and its implications, it became clear to me that in the absence of an “inclusive feminist approach”, the systemic exclusion of vulnerable groups will have grave consequences. During a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, floods and hurricanes or atrocities such as war and physical conflicts, temporary or permeant disability can be caused in the case of civilians being injured; this, in addition to the pre-existing persons with disabilities facing these disasters will all require adapted assistance. Continue reading “#16Days: Inclusive feminist lens”