top of page

How Is Women’s Empowerment Being Addressed in Foreign Policy? What is Canada’s influence on the Women’s Peace and Security Agenda?

Written by: Alexa Dominique Pascual

Feminism and women's rights have been an ongoing problem in our world today. Women being in male-dominated fields has not only been beneficial in promoting gender equality, but also it has been crucial because of the assault they are experiencing from male colleagues. People try to push the idea of having more women in fields such as the military, intelligence and in special forces. NATO, UN and the international community have been continually encouraging more youth to advocate on speaking up on fighting for their rights as women. For generations, the issue of women’s empowerment has not been prioritized until today. When NATO developed the “Women’s Peace and Security” agenda and joined the international community in the fight for women’s rights, the agenda became a topic in bilateral meetings between states. Does this solve women's empowerment?  Canada being one of the leaders of the feminist foreign policy, what does the government need to do to increase influence in other developing countries that do not observe the act of feminism? How can the government increase its influence within Canada? 


What influence does feminism have in international relations? 


NATO has adopted the “Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” (CRSV)” which is a resolution act that promotes the prevention of rape, sexual violence, slavery, and forced prostitution. States within the NATO and G7 alliance also adopted the “United Nations Council Resolution 2467,” which is an agenda that gives resolutions to gender inequality and discrimination. This agenda also promotes that if the world adapts the act of women’s empowerment, this can result in peace and prosperity, as we all know that the protection of women is slowly in adoption. Canada, one of the leading countries along with Sweden, France, Germany, Norway and Luxemburg in the Women’s Peace and Security agenda, should influence other countries that are in crisis and risk on the benefits of implementing such a policy. The Canadian government successfully gave their contribution to the agenda by giving resources for feminism in trade, development, military, and foreign policy.  As an example, Canada implemented the “Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy” which advanced the strategy of promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.

The policy also focuses on enhancing the participation of women in decision-making and leadership roles. Canada has been one of the leading countries, along with the EU to improve the livelihood and to increase opportunities for women to strengthen their full potential when it comes to decision-making, leadership and executive roles. For example, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy also gives a great focus on women living in rural areas.The agenda improves the delivery of mentorship and coaching to increase female participation in the global stage. This is an excellent opportunity for any developing nation to enhance its economic development because if there are more opportunities for women, a nation’s employment rate will increase. This means that the agenda should continue to bring access to women for better education and job opportunities because the policy increases awareness of having women in male-dominated fields, which brings our society to prevent the act of gender inequality.  Regarding sexual violence, the policy promotes the prevention of child trafficking, child marriage and to improve access to psychological support for survivors of gender-based violence. The government donated $9 million in funding to prevent gender-based violence and support to abortion services. And $23 million to organizations that promote representation for women and mentoring. (Government of Canada,Report to parliament on the Government of Canada’s international assistance 2020-2021.)

In this way, the practice of employing women in all fields will increase the possibility of living in a modernized society. This will also increase the potential of all women, and to develop their way of thinking to have the possibility to participate in leadership roles. 


 Canada also succeeded with the partnership with the UN as part of the 2030 agenda. Canada along with the EU, can give an example of how to operate strategies representing women’s rights and see if other nations can experiment with that strategy in their countries. One of Canada’s best efforts in contributing to the WSP strategy is by implementing the “NAP,” also known as the “National Action Plan .”The agenda promotes the support of women in civil society and the importance of collaborating in feminist organizations to promote women’s empowerment. It has successfully promoted the importance of having more women in international security roles, and the agenda also brought awareness to the prevention of sexual violence. The Government of Canada dedicated $150 million in support to organizations that promote women’s empowerment and mentorship programs that improve women’s rights in developing countries. (Government of Canada, Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, 2017-2022)


Humanitarian aid is one of the significant policies that Canada has contributed to. Canada being one of the participating countries in the “Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund” gave the Canadian policy to enhance its leadership for the feminist foreign policy.  The Humanitarian fund creates a global partnership that collaborates with organizations that promote women’s rights in countries that are in crisis. This also made Canada one of the leading contributors to “UN Women,” donating $9.6 million, which gave an improvement to strengthen  aspiring female leaders to create a change in their society. For example, in West and Central Africa, the policy reached its potential by increasing female participation in the political field, giving the opportunity for gender equality in government. This increased productivity within the nation and developed women’s full potential. The more women who are educated and involved then, the more productivity a country will receive. (UN Women, UN Women and Canada) 


Why is it important to be a part of the Feminist Foreign Policy?

The benefit of being a part of the feminist foreign policy is that every nation will have the help of experiencing gender equality. Sexual violence and gender inequality have been an ongoing manipulative tactic worldwide, especially in extremist countries that use their religion to control their people, for example, the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan where women have been banned from attending university. With the alliance's support as a team, citizens can quickly increase awareness about these issues. Another example is, In Turkey, the government undermines the issue of women's rights, causing the plan to weaken and be looked upon. The Turkish government ignores the issue of domestic violence, increasing the abuse of women. The country even withdrew from the Council of Europe's convention in 2021, designed to combat domestic violence. (Human Rights Watch, Interview: How Turkey’s Failure to Protect Women Can Cost Them Their Lives,(2022) This resulted in a lack of public commitment to women's empowerment. Withdrawing from the convention denotes the government's rejection of women's rights, which caused the problem to grow and be challenging to resolve. In this case, there is a need to increase influence, especially with more powerful nations within the alliance who do not participate in the WPS agenda. Influencing these nations to join in the policy can improve the agenda and significantly impact the policy's implementation. When developing countries are concerned, sexual violence on women has been increasing, in regions such as Algeria, Iraq and Syria 18% of girls are married before the age of 18. This gives an opportunity for their spouses to sexually assault them, increasing underage rape. Which is a violation of human rights and can affect the child in their mental state. Also, the nation lacks a support system to save survivors, especially when it comes to their mental health. In Jordan, 28% of women experience domestic violence. In Bahrian 30% to 40% of women have been experiencing attempted suicides because of domestic abuse and poverty. Strengthening the WSP agenda can limit these sufferings experienced by women who are living in nations experiencing crisis. The alliance should continue to collaborate and find ways on how to better enhance the strategy. I am not suggesting for the policy to grow abruptly, but it should not be looked upon and it needs further enhancing. (World Bank Blogs,Mena must take bold action against Gender-Based Violence, Ferid Balhaj,2021)


How can we bring awareness about the Women’s Peace and Security agenda?

The Canadian government should continue to coordinate with our allies to implement this strategy further. Developing nations worldwide need our help and influence. Economies have been falling apart, and women are seen as second-class citizens. The Government of Canada must continue to collaborate with feminist organizations internationally and locally. From a local perspective, officials should continue to expand on resources and promote the Feminist Foreign Policy across the country. To bring awareness and to showcase what Canada has for the WSP agenda. Enhancing the Canadian feminist policy nationally will increase participation in politics and leadership opportunities. In that way, the government can successfully strengthen youth participation to empower the next generation. This will create more young leaders to care and be passionate about a cause. Increasing youth participation will increase productivity for the future of our country and for nations around the world. 



1.(Government of Canada, “Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy”,

(US and The Americas Programme, “US Foreign Policy Priorities”, (October 2020),

(Human Rights Watch, “How Turkey’s Failure to Protect Women Can Cost Them Their Lives”, (May,26,2022),

(NATO, NATO/EAPC Womens,Peace and Securtiy Policy Plan 2018, (2018),

(NATO, Women’s Peace and Security in Professional Military Education, (November,17, 2022),

(NATO, NATO Stands with the international community to address sexual violence in conflict”, (April,14,2021),

(A Program Of The Women’s International League For Peace And Freedom, “Canada”,

(Government of Canada, “Gender Equality: A Foundation for Peace Canada’s National Action Plan”,

(Women’s Refugee Commission, “ Biden-Harris Administration earns 50% on Feminist Foreign Policy 1 Year Scoreboard, (January,28,2022), 

(U.S Department of Education, Know Your Rights: Title IX Prohibits Sexual Harassment1 and Sexual Violence Where You Go to School,

(NATO, NATO/EAPC Womens,Peace and Securtiy Policy Plan 2018, (2018),

(Prime Minister of Canada, “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau on United Nations Day”, (October,24,2022),

(Government of Canada, “Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy”,


 (Human Rights Watch, “How Turkey’s Failure to Protect Women Can Cost Them Their Lives”, (May,26,2022),


(BBC, Afghanistan: Taliban ban women from universities amid condemnation, (December,21,2022),

bottom of page