EVENT: November 12th – Gender-Inclusive Democracy Support: A Dialogue on Options for Development Organizations and Policy

EVENT: November 12th – Gender-Inclusive Democracy Support: A Dialogue on Options for Development Organizations and Policy


As one of Canada’s leading democracy assistance organizations, the Parliamentary Centre is committed to thoughtful and in-depth analyses of key topics in international assistance. We strive to connect global expertise, grassroots experience in international development with the latest research. This dialogue is especially important for us. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) has brought a critical new lens to many areas of international aid, however democracy assistance has not been one of its focal points. We believe this dialogue will offer an opportunity to understand FIAP’s accomplishments and shortcomings in the areas of democracy & governance.


  • Nancy Karetak-Lindell, former MP for Nunavut. Nancy Karetak-Lindell was elected in 1997 as the first Member of Parliament for the new riding of Nunavut. Re-elected in 2000, 2004 and 2006, she is also the first female Member of Parliament for the Eastern Arctic. She was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources in 2003, and served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development.
  • Stephanie Lynn: Vice President, Research & Engagement – Stratcom. Stephanie Lynn has twenty years as a democracy development practitioner working with heads of state, legislatures, political parties and community activists. She is renowned for her achievements in skills training, leveraging research on public and political leaders’ opinions and policy advocacy to advance the representation of women in political institutions.
  • Dr. Laura Parisi, Associate Professor – University of Victoria. Dr. Laura Parisi is chair and associate professor of the Department of Gender Studies with a cross-appointment in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada. She has published in the areas of gender equality, global governance, political economy, human rights, and international development. Her current projects include a coauthored article entitled “How Does Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy ‘Measure’ Up? Reflections on Indicators of Effectiveness,” a book chapter entitled “Feminist Governance in Foreign Aid,” and a coauthored book, Gender, Power, and International Development: A Critical Approach (Palgrave).
  • Dr. Liam Swiss, Associate Professor – Memorial University. Dr. Swiss researches the political sociology of foreign aid and international development from a comparative perspective. His current SSHRC-funded Insight Grant, “Developing Conformity: Foreign Aid and the Diffusion of Global Norms” (2016-2021), employs cross-national statistical analysis to examine the role of foreign aid and other forms of development finance in the diffusion of global norms.
  • Paddy Torsney – Permanent Observer to the United Nations. Ms. Torsney represented Burlington, Ontario, in Parliament from 1993 and 2006, during which time she was also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment between 1998 and 2000, and to the Minister for International Cooperation from 2004 to 2006. Until her appointment, she was Vice-President of the Capital Hill Group, a national Government relations firm, since 2008.


  • Dr. Gabrielle Bardall, Parliamentary Centre Associate and Founder of Herizon Democracy. Gabrielle Bardall Ph.D. is an affiliated researcher with the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa. For nearly 20 years, Gabrielle has worked in over 50 countries worldwide on elections and democracy assistance, especially promoting women’s political rights in post-conflict and authoritarian states.

Context and Rationale:

Human rights and gender equality are core Canadian values that are at the forefront of our foreign policy. The Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) recognizes that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous societies.

FIAP focuses on innovation, targeted partnerships, and advocacy efforts with the most potential for closing gender gaps. It has resulted in historic investment in grassroots women’s organizations to strengthen a wide range of different focus areas, from agriculture to finance to health. One of the core action areas of the FIAP is to support Inclusive Governance. It also commits to encouraging greater political participation by women and girls.

Up to now, the action area relating to promoting women’s participation in politics and advancing feminist democracy assistance has been underappreciated and under-funded when compared to other areas of the FIAP. Given the long history of political and economic corruption in politics and democratic institutions, it is not surprising that there is uneasiness among many about investing in this sector. However, strong and inclusive democracy is at the heart of sustainable development and women’s full and equal participation in democracy is an essential driver of success. Democracy and governance support under the FIAP has not kept pace. Join us to explore the ways in which it can better meet these needs.