A feminist approach to democracy assistance: Parliamentary Centre addresses Min. Sajjan

A feminist approach to democracy assistance: Parliamentary Centre addresses Min. Sajjan

March 24, 2022

The Parliamentary Centre addressed International Development Minister Sajjan during a civil society roundtable on gender equality in international assistance. Remarks by Vice President for External Relations, Dr. Gabrielle Bardall :

“Thank you for the opportunity to offer our thoughts today. I am speaking to you from Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People.

I join other colleagues here today in expressing our support for the continued centrality of feminism in Canada’s international development assistance

Autocrats use feminism strategically against democracies.

We have seen Russia do this ahead of the current war in Ukraine

FIAP has been transformative in many areas, however international democracy and governance support has not benefited from a deep feminist analysis to the same degree as other fields of international development. Our approach still reflects an “add women and stir” strategy, when in fact this is infinitely more complex. Men are feminists, women support patriarchy, authoritarians are using feminism as a strategy to undermine our democracies. We have seen demonstrated proof of Russia doing this ahead of the current conflict in Ukraine.

We need to understand these complexities to effectively engage. This is key for policy coherence. Behind every issue – health, education – is a governance issue. We need a feminist approach to democracy and governance international assistance.

Behind every issue – health, education – is a governance issue.

We need a feminist approach to democracy and governance international assistance to effectively engage.

Its also important to make the link between Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and democratization. Too often, we assume the WPS agenda ends when actors stand up and walk away from the negotiating table. I argue that that is the moment when it must really start.

Even when women are included in peace negotiations, afterwards – when its back to “politics as normal” – traditional (male) actors often reclaim the space. This replicates the power structures that produce conflict in the first place. Democratization is an essential area of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Democratization is an essential, but overlooked area of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

In light of this “Democracy Year of Action” and your leadership on creating a Canadian Centre for Democracy, 2022 offers a critical window of opportunity for this.

Finally, supporting advocacy for feminist organizations to speak to governments and parliaments is an important barrier to address. A feminist approach to democracy and governance assistance is not just about women’s leaders, it’s about all leaders listening to women’s needs.

We look forward to hearing how a reinvigorated FIAP will include areas that have received less attention (governance pillar) or require continued attention (advocacy).

Thank you.”

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