Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising FAQ
Log In
Opinion

Research can help international development do more with less

By Jennifer Erin Salahub      

Studies show us possible ways to improve women's lives globally.

International Development MInster Marie-Claude Bibeau's recent announcement to helping low- and middle-income countries, with a renewed focus on gender equality, has the potential to be a 'game-changer,' writes Jennifer Erin Salahub. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

A few weeks ago, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister for International Development and La Francophonie, announced an ambitious new approach to helping low- and middle-income countries: Canada’s first feminist International Assistance Policy. With a renewed focus on gender equality, dedicated resources for local women’s organizations, and a requirement to consult locally on all project, the policy is set to be a game-changer, and is being recognized as such.

Where critiques have been levelled, they focus on the lack of new resources to implement the vision laid out in the policy. Yet, there are many ways that Canada can strengthen its commitment to prioritizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls across the breadth of its international assistance portfolio without new money.

One solution lies in using evidence to further strengthen the ability of existing programs to achieve feminist foreign policy goals. Research funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre offers three concrete areas in which Canada has invested in policy-relevant evidence that can help turn feminist ideals into practical solutions and development results.

First, understand masculinities—or what it means to be a man—and how this can be a positive force to help reduce domestic violence and particularly violence against women and girls. Studies conducted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Maputo, Mozambique, by Promundo, an NGO with offices on four continents, show how bringing men into caregiving roles and sharing household duties is directly linked with men rejecting pressures to join drug trafficking gangs or using violence to express their manhood. Incorporating this kind of evidence into existing programming that Global Affairs is leading to reduce violence against women and girls would come at minimal cost and potentially enormous gain.

Second, consider women’s mobility needs. Research in Pakistan shows how social rules assigned to women restrict their movement around cities like Karachi. In a part of the world where women and men do not mix freely in public and public transit is provided by the private sector, women are often left in unsafe situations when bus drivers eject them from the few seats reserved for women so they can cram more male customers into that space. Fearing that they will be left at the side of the road in unsafe parts of town, many women or their families limit their movements to places that can be accessed on foot, with negative implications for women’s education, labour force participation, and empowerment. Drawing on this research to support dedicated and safe public transit for women, conducting vulnerability assessments and safety audits, and using crowd-sourcing to identify unsafe places would lead to greater impact and healthier societies.

Finally, look more deeply at public service delivery. The same study in Karachi shows how public service delivery of water, sanitation, and hygiene contributes to violence. In informal settlements on the outskirts of the city, water service delivery isn’t provided by the municipality but rather by so-called water mafias working in collusion with corrupt state officials to charge exorbitant prices for irregular water delivery. As families struggle to cope with restricted access to water, tempers flare and women often bear the physical brunt of their spouses’ or in-laws’ frustrations. Public education on women’s rights and changing social roles through theatre and electronic media combined with renewed efforts to professionalize public delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services can increase the positive impact that public health programming has on the lives of women and girls.

Building these research results into existing and future programming can help Global Affairs and its implementing partners do more with existing resources. It can also help Canada meet its commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. Most importantly, it can help make the lives of women, men, boys, and girls safer, more equitable, and have more opportunities.

And that’s really what a feminist foreign policy is all about.

Jennifer Erin Salahum is senior program officer at the International Development Research Centre.

The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

In parliamentary ‘game of chicken,’ NDP side with Liberals to defeat Conservative motion, averting snap election

News|By Beatrice Paez
The nail-biter 146-180 vote came down in large part to the NDP. Its 24 representatives voted alongside the Liberals and the Greens’ three-member caucus in defeating a Conservative motion.

Liberal MP Lamoureux continues prolific speaking record, raising opposition ire

‘I’m living the dream,’ says Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux of his regular House of Commons presence. With more than 550 House interventions so far this Parliament, he’s second only to the Speaker.

Feds misled House Defence Committee in 2019 on status of peacekeeping pledges

News|By Neil Moss
'It's a bald-faced lie if they actually said they did and didn't,' says Conservative Defence Committee vice-chair James Bezan of the non-registration of the promised 200-member Quick Reaction Force.

Canada can increase pressure on NATO-ally Turkey to calm Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenian envoy

Anahit Harutyunyan says new information proves Canadian drones are being used by Turkish-backed Azerbaijani fighters, justifying an ‘indefinite’ arms ban on Turkey.

Infrastructure bank’s $10-billion growth plan raises hope of green bond push in Canada

Green bonds are fixed-income financial instruments usually used to secure funding for sustainable infrastructure projects.

Violence directed at Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia leaves ‘black eye’ on Canada, says Mi’kmaq Senator, as he and rookie Mi’kmaq Grit MP urge long-term solution

News|By Palak Mangat
'I think the current route is a dead end, so if they continue to bang their heads against a wall, everyone’s going to get a headache,' says Independent Nova Scotia Senator Dan Christmas.

House vote looms over Conservative motion that could trigger federal election, as Liberals double down

News|By Palak Mangat
Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez dodged questions if the government was responsible for setting the stage for a stand-off that could trigger an election, saying the question should be asked of the Conservatives.

‘Six systemic crises’ confronting Canada, and politicians, policy-makers, health-care professionals need ‘systems thinking’ to tackle them, says public policy expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Global Brief magazine editor Irvin Studin says politicians and policy-makers' thinking is 'too small, it’s too linear, it’s too path dependent, and it looks increasingly absurd as these systemic crises.'

Canada needs a new ‘fiscal anchor’ and Freeland needs to share financial plans, says PBO Giroux

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux says he's found it 'much more difficult to get information out of the minister’s officer' since Parliament returned with Chrystia Freeland in charge of the nation's finances.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.