Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) is thrilled to announce that it has just embarked on a historic project that will inform the framework and initial content of Canada’s 10-year National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Funding from the Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) has made this possible. Since 2014, WSC has been calling for a NAP on GBV/VAW. This week, we began convening the first discussion sessions with 40 experts from across the country. This project, with its ambitious timeline, will tackle four of the five pillars that have been identified by WAGE in their vision of the National Action Plan. These pillars are:
- Co-chairs: Anuradha Dugal of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Tuval Dinner Nafshi
- Support for survivors and their families
- Co-chairs: Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women’s Support Services and Jo-Anne Dusel of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS)
- Promotion of responsive legal and justice systems
- Social infrastructure and enabling environment, including housing, childcare
With the leadership of WSC’s staff and contracted Strategic Engagement Specialist, Dr. Amanda Dale, each pillar will have a working group of eight individuals and will be led by two co-chairs. The Working Groups will develop recommendations that, together, will provide the framework and initial content that will inform an intersectional10-year NAP. The recommendations will consider the different ways different experiences of violence impact communities, and how to ensure the plan does not make recommendations that simply redistribute harms to racialized, Indigenous, migrant and disabled communities. Our plan will aim to be practical and will include a series of short-term actions that could be taken by governments immediately as well as more complex items that will require efforts in multiple jurisdictions and sectors and federal/provincial/territorial cooperation. With tight timelines and ambitious aims, the working groups will complete their work this spring.
The United Nations and governments around the world recognize that National Action Plans on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence can play a valuable coordinating role in concerted, sustained efforts to address this social harm.
In 2014, WSC alongside a network of NGOs, trade unions, and independent experts began its work on the NAP and issued a Blueprint for Canada’s National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls. In the summer of 2020, a Reissued Call for a National Action Plan (NAP) was again launched and endorsed by 250 organizations across Canada.
As part of its re-election platform, the Government of Canada has made a commitment to a national action plan on VAW/GBV. It is part of the Mandate Letter for the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural and Economic Development and implicates other ministries at the federal level in aspects of its leadership. The recent Joint Statement of the FPT ministers, pledging to work together for the goals of the national action plan on GBV adds momentum to this long-over-due work!
This is an unprecedented moment for the Government of Canada to strengthen its commitments to social equity and justice. Today’s response to the National Action Plan is one that will impact the next generation and shape the future of our country. We have the potential to bring us closer to the goal of a robust National Action Plan than we have ever been before, and now is the time to finally implement it once and for all.