Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is in line with the Canadian government’s priorities, according to the country’s voluntary national review.
In the opening to the report, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau writes: “Our priorities at home align with our priorities abroad: building economic growth that works for everyone, advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, taking action on climate change, and narrowing persistent socio- economic gaps.”
The report highlights Canada’s achievements towards these goals including the launch of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, establishing a new Parental Sharing Benefit to promote more equal parental roles, and the introduction of various social security schemes such as the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to reduce poverty amongst seniors.
However, the government’s commitment needs strengthening, says Deborah Glaser, Senior Policy Analyst at the BC Council for International Cooperation. In an article for Alliance 2030, she writes, “If we look a little closer at the very statistics presented in the [national review], we see that Canada is regressing on multiple SDG indicators. Food insecurity is increasing, the percentage of Canadians in core housing need is growing, and access to water in Indigenous communities is decreasing.”
Glaser references several countries that are ahead of Canada in terms of including stakeholders in the SDG process. For example, Guatemala has a national SDG administrative structure with representatives who have authority to budget funds to prioritize the SDGs and in Ghana, the SDG Implementation Coordination Committee involves the highest level of government working in cooperation with civil society and the private sector to implement the goals.
“There is no reason that Canada—with its strong democratic and social institutions—cannot do the same,” Glaser argues. “Until then, we risk falling even further behind in our commitments to Canada and the global community.”
Regardless of how the government is moving the needle on these goals, organizations across Canada are championing human rights at home and abroad.
From gender equality (Goal 5) to having peace, justice, and strong institutions (Goal 16), our second installment in a three-part series looks at three Canadian organizations and Alliance 2030 members taking up this cause.
Next Gen Men
Next Gen Men is a nonprofit that engages, educates, and empowers men and boys around gender. Their vision is to redefine what it means to “be a man” by promoting positive masculinities, healthy relationships, and gender equity.
The organization create spaces that engage men and boys on the topics such as consent culture and gender-based violence. Their Next Gen Men programs geared towards youth explore what manhood is. They also host Wolf Pack discussion groups which create a safe space for men to have conversations. Their Equity Leaders program engages leaders in training and discussions about diversity and inclusion “in order to smash the glass ceiling from the top down”—an often overlooked aspect of achieving gender equality. The organization also hosts the podcasts Modern Manhood and Breaking the Boycode.
Equal Voice is a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to political office in Canada. Since 2001, the organization has been advocating for the representation of women in Parliament, legislature, and other levels of office, including at the municipal level.
Equal Voice works with political parties to increase the nominations of women candidates and promote electoral changes to increase the number of women in politics. The organization also reaches out to young women to inspire them to take up careers in politics and provides resources such as guidebooks and activity booklets for women who are considering entering politics.
Equal Voice also educates Canadians about women in politics. Check out this timeline outlining important events in Canada’s political history, such as when the first woman was elected in Canada (Louise McKinney, 1917), and when the first Indigenous woman was elected to Parliament (Ethel Blondin-Andrew, 1988).
Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education
Equitas uses education to advance equality, social justice, and respect for human dignity in Canada and around the world. The nonprofit promotes equality, respect for diversity, community engagement, and social change.
From Colombia, to China and Turkey, to Thailand, over the last five decades, Equitas has trained more than 5,000 human rights defenders from 140 countries and reached more than 800,000 children and youth from communities across Canada, according to their annual report.
Equitas uses a human rights based approach to analyze gender issues and design solutions to address inequalities, encourage increased participation of women and girls in leadership, and promote the protection of the rights of LBGTQI community.