New Aid Policy Focus on Gender Equality, Empowerment of Women Welcomed by Foodgrains Bank

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, announces the Government of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy on Friday, June 9.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank welcomes the important focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Government of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy announced today.

We also welcome the announcement that Canada will concentrate its international assistance in those parts of the world where the incidence and depth of poverty and vulnerability are most acute and Canada’s support can make the biggest difference.

The new policy recognizes that the majority of those living in extreme poverty live in rural areas and work in the agriculture sector, and that most working women in the least developed countries make their living in agriculture—79 percent report agriculture as their primary source of income. We welcome Canada’s commitment to improve economic opportunities for and resilience of rural women in the area of climate-smart agriculture and the encouragement and development of women’s entrepreneurship. To address extreme poverty, investment in agriculture development is essential, and it is vital that women are included and empowered in this development process.

The policy recognizes that half the world’s extreme poor live in sub-Saharan Africa, and rightly commits Canada to ensuring that no less than 50 percent of its bilateral international development assistance is directed to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-22.

The policy recognizes that an increasing proportion of the world’s poorest citizens live in countries and regions that are deemed “fragile” due to the risk of violent conflict, climate and environmental hazards, or economic and political insecurity. We welcome Canada’s commitment to using its international assistance to help protect and preserve human dignity in these contexts, and to ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and girls, have access to good health care and nutrition, quality education and timely humanitarian assistance.

The policy recognizes that the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world are experiencing the destabilizing effects of climate change in costly ways, and that women and girls are particularly at risk when it comes to these threats. We welcome Canada’s continued commitment to helping vulnerable communities and countries adapt to these changes and develop climate-resilient economies, while also combating climate change.

There is much in this new policy, if well executed, that will make a difference for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, especially women and girls who often have the least access to resources and power, and are often the one’s left behind.

The policy recognizes that women and girls can be powerful agents of change, and need to be a critical part of the transformation that we are seeking, where everyone has enough to eat, can provide for their families, participate in society, and live in dignity and peace.

– Jim Cornelius, Executive Director