CARE Canada statement: Ministerial mandates for a gender-just recovery

OTTAWA, 21 DECEMBER 2021 – We congratulate the ministers on their appointments and support the mandates outlined in their letters last week, grounded in intersectional approaches to human rights, feminism, equity and inclusion, supporting local leadership, including Indigenous and marginalized communities here and globally.

In particular, the mandates for the Ministers of International Development, of Foreign Affairs, and of Women, Gender Equality, and Youth strongly reflect feminist values and priorities in Canada’s international efforts to end poverty and inequality, and drive a gender-just recovery, anchored by the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and feminist foreign policy principles.

Women and girls are leading everywhere—as frontline health workers to fight COVID-19 and to address conflict and climate emergencies. Their leadership must continue to define solutions to the intersecting crises that impact them the most. Yet they lack sufficient resources and access to decision-making spaces, and their rights are threatened. Significant investment in women’s leadership, health, safety, and livelihoods is critical to pandemic recovery everywhere. A gender-just approach to unlock resources is urgently needed.

For this, we welcome the mandate to increase Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) annually to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to increase investments in the local leadership of women and their organizations.

Investing in women’s rights organizations strengthens the rights of women and girls to the benefit of all, as we have seen through Canada’s groundbreaking Women’s Voice and Leadership program, which we support in Kenya, South Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire. We applaud increased support to women’s leadership through this and other programs, including the landmark investments to address the unequal burdens of care work.

To ensure critical progress on their mandates, CARE Canada recommends the following actions for ministers:

  • We recommend Canada increases its International Assistance Envelope by $1.5 billion above the current 2020-21 financial commitments to reach $9 billion in Budget 2022. Coupled with the annual increases to ODA through 2030, this will support an end to the pandemic and secure a just recovery.

Increased financing will support several urgent mandate priorities. Notably, to provide humanitarian assistance and deliver on Canada’s commitments under the G7 Famine Compact to address the worst hunger crisis this century.

Similarly, investments to deliver both COVID-19 vaccines and routine health services will support the mandate to strengthen health systems. These are powered by health care workers, 70% of whom are women, often with insecure livelihoods, at risk of COVID-19 infection and representing only a quarter of health leadership.

  • Alongside investments, and vaccine donations through COVAX, the critical mandate to increase vaccine production in low-income countries must be accompanied by enabling political support from Canada. The government must amend the Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) to allow the generic production and export of vaccines and support the temporary suspension of intellectual property rules on COVID-19 products, joining over 100 World Trade Organization (WTO) members to end the pandemic everywhere.
  • We urge the government formally adopt its Feminist Foreign Policy, pending since 2020. This will allow Canada to continue to champion the rights and leadership of all, in solidarity with women and girls, LGBTQ2+ people, and other marginalized communities, and promote democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law, alongside fellow countries who have also adopted similar foreign policies.

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About CARE Canada:

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE develops solutions alongside women and girls in developing countries to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty and out of crisis. CARE stands with women and girls around the world in economic empowerment. We bring women, girls, and their communities together to challenge inequality while facing issues like food insecurity, climate change, and emergency relief in times of crisis or disaster. CARE works in 100 countries around the world.

To learn more about CARE Canada, visit www.care.ca