Annex C: Gender-Based Analysis Plus and the Defence Policy Review

The Defence team has a significant presence across Canada. Its activities have global reach and influence and the defence workforce comprises more than 100,000 military personnel and 25,000 civilian employees. Given the depth and breadth of defence activities, our policies, programs, services and initiatives can have profound impacts on diverse groups of people, taking into account gender and a range of other identity factors. Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is thus a valuable analytical tool that helps us attain better results for Canadians by ensuring our activities are more responsive to the specific needs and circumstances of diverse groups of people. Our application of GBA+ to the Defence Policy Review process helped us deliver on the Government of Canada’s commitment to gender equality, inclusion and evidence-based policy development.

Expert input

GBA+ has been an integral analytical tool throughout the development of this policy and has been applied at every stage of the Defence Policy Review process, beginning with our unprecedented public consultations.

In addition to ensuring that a diverse range of voices participated in all of the expert roundtables held across Canada in support of the Defence Policy Review, the Defence team convened a special roundtable discussion with gender and diversity experts and senior departmental officials to examine the key questions of the review through the lens of GBA+.

This discussion yielded valuable insights and new perspectives on important questions considered during the review, including methods for applying GBA+ in the planning of military operations, how to ensure a career with the Forces is appealing to all regardless of gender, and the ways in which the Canadian Armed Forces can promote human rights and gender equality on deployed operations. The recommendations provided by experts have contributed substantially to the formation of Canada’s new defence policy.

GBA+ in the policy

We applied valuable input from the public consultation process, along with our own GBA+ analysis, directly to the policy development process, which had a direct impact on the language and policy direction that appears throughout the final document.

The influence of our GBA+ analysis is perhaps most apparent in the first chapter of Strong, Secure, Engaged which deals with our people:

  • The new policy direction on Recruitment, Training and Retention includes specific direction to prioritize diversity and inclusion in the Canadian Armed Forces, to develop and implement a new Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy to ensure a welcoming and healthy work environment, and to review conditions of service to promote more personalized and flexible career options.
  • The policy contains a section on Leveraging Canada’s Diversity that includes direction to appoint a diversity champion and integrate GBA+ in all defence activities across the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence, from the design and implementation of programs and services that support our personnel, to equipment procurement and operational planning. It also institutes mandatory GBA+ training, and directs the Canadian Armed Forces to be a leader in gender balance in the military by increasing the representation of women by one percent annually over the next 10 years to 25 percent representation by 2026.
  • The policy deals directly with the need to eliminate harmful behaviours and ensure a work environment free from harassment and discrimination. The full implementation of the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps Report through Operation HONOUR – the Canadian Armed Forces mission to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the military – is explicitly identified as a key priority in the policy, as well as the provision of a full range of victim and survivor support services to Canadian Armed Forces members.
  • This policy includes new initiatives to support the health and resilience of the Canadian Armed Forces, including the creation of an environment free from stigma where military members are encouraged to raise health concerns of any nature and seek appropriate help when they need it.
  • The policy recognizes that the impact of military service goes beyond those who wear the uniform, and includes a number of initiatives designed to help stabilize family life for Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. This includes improved access to psychological services, efforts to ease the burden of frequent relocation, resources to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, and other military family support programs.

In addition to the people-centred initiatives and policy direction outlined above, the application of GBA+ to our policy analysis influenced Canada’s new defence policy in other important ways. For example:

  • The overarching vision for the policy articulates the Canadian values that will guide the Canadian Armed Forces’ engagement in the world: inclusion, compassion, accountable governance, and respect for diversity and human rights.
  • Our analysis of the global security environment acknowledges the socio-economic drivers and other human dimensions of conflict; notes that the growing number of migrants worldwide fleeing economic, environmental, or conflict-related crises exacerbates the negative consequences of inequality and marginalization; and identifies the continued prevalence of conflict-based sexual violence as an issue of continued concern.
  • The need to better anticipate and understand the global security environment – the first element of our new approach to defence – is focused on achieving a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the root causes of conflict with a view to playing a greater role in conflict prevention, intervening earlier in the conflict cycle when necessary, and minimizing the effects of prolonged conflict. Our GBA+ analysis not only pointed to this requirement, but will also be a key tool in the analysis of the security environment on an ongoing basis. Our enhanced academic outreach program includes a commitment to be mindful of the need for a diverse spectrum of voices on defence and security issues.
  • The new set of eight core missions for the Canadian Armed Forces includes a renewed commitment to peace operations and a new mission focused on building the capacity of others. Working to implement and advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda laid out in the United Nations Security Council’s landmark Resolution 1325, and subsequent related resolutions, will be an important aspect of Canada’s international military engagements in both of these areas. Further, the policy includes a commitment to continue to integrate gender perspectives into the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of all Canadian Armed Forces operations.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces recognizes that diversity and inclusion in the Canadian Armed Forces increases operational effectiveness by drawing on the strengths of Canada’s diverse and multicultural population.
  • Gender and diversity issues also feature prominently in the policy’s treatment of global engagement, including contributing to broader Government of Canada efforts to empower women and girls in Africa, and to demonstrate leadership in gender mainstreaming – the routine consideration of gender in public policy development – in the Americas.
  • The Defence team worked extremely closely with Status of Women Canada to apply a GBA+ lens to the text of this policy to ensure it is inclusive and reflective of Canadians.

Gba+ and policy implementation

As noted above, this policy includes a commitment to integrate GBA+ in all defence activities across the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence. This commitment will ensure that every element of the implementation of Canada’s new defence policy is informed by GBA+, from the procurement of major new equipment platforms, to the growth of the military and civilian Defence team, to the new Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program, to the planning and conduct of Canadian Armed Forces operations.

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