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Women, peace and security

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Women and girls are disproportionately affected by violent conflict. At the hands of armed groups and terrorists, women and girls are often subjected to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other forms of sexual violence. Survivors are left to deal with a lifetime of severe stigmatization, may be shunned by family and community members, and may face reprisals.

Women also play a critical role in defending human rights and negotiating peace. They bring different perspectives and priorities into conflict-prevention, resolution and peacebuilding processes. For example, when women are involved in peace talks, they broaden the discussion beyond the interests of the warring parties, and advocate for a more equitable peace. Yet women are rarely empowered to prevent, manage, and end conflict.

The women, peace, and security agenda – as outlined through various United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions – calls for the international community to promote the meaningful participation of women in all peace and security efforts. The agenda calls for the full respect of the human rights of women and girls, the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, the realization of gender equality and the integration of gender perspectives into all peace and security activities. To date, 69 countries have established national action plans on women, peace and security.

Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Canada recognizes that achieving sustainable peace requires the full involvement of women and girls in the prevention and resolution of conflict. Their active participation presents unique and pivotal opportunities to promote gender-equal and peaceful societies.

Canada launched its first National Action Plan in 2010, for the period of 2011 to 2016, and tabled five annual progress reports in Parliament.

We have now launched our second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security – for the period of 2017 to 2022. It is more inclusive, transparent, and ambitious than the first – with a strengthened focus on gender equality, government partnership, and strengthened cooperation with civil society. The Action Plan is a key component of Canada’s feminist foreign policy, which includes the Feminist International Assistance Policy and Canada’s Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged.

Canada is proud to lead on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, and recently announced an initial $17 million in funding for new projects to support it. We will advance this agenda through international assistance programming, diplomacy and our participation in peace operations and other peace and stabilization efforts, including through the UN, NATO, G7, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, and with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The renewed Action Plan builds on accomplishments and efforts under the previous Plan, many of which are still underway. In January 2016, Canada took up the chair of Colombia’s International Cooperation Gender Coordination Group (Mesa de Género) and included peace implementation as one of the priority areas. In November 2016, Canada also announced a $1.5-million contribution to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, a financing mechanism aimed at enhancing women’s participation in peace and security.

Canada has also been a strong advocate of a gender-based approach to security-sector reform. We supported the Haitian National Police through training and professional development initiatives for senior officers, which integrated gender considerations, including training on sexual and gender-based violence. In Ukraine, Canada has trained police teams to respond better to gender-based violence and ensured that Ukrainian policewomen in particular have access to Canadian training on modern policing techniques. Canadian police in Iraq deliver training courses on community-based policing to enable Iraqi police officers to engage all segments of the communities they serve, including women and children.

In addition, to help end impunity and support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, Canada provided a $3-million grant, for 2015 to 2018, to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict. The Office conducts missions to North Africa and the Middle East to engage with national authorities and armed groups, raise awareness, address challenges associated with conflict-related sexual violence, and help fight against impunity. Canada also deploys police investigators to international tribunals to combat impunity for sexual and gender-based violence, most recently to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (commonly known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) from 2015 to 2017.

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