Women and Gender Equality Canada mandate


A Canada where women and people of all genders and sexual orientations are equal in every way and can achieve their full potential.


The Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) advances equality with respect to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression through the inclusion of women and 2SLGBTQI+ people in every aspect of Canada’s social, economic, and political life.

Read the Minister’s mandate letter.

Raison d’être

WAGE works to advance gender equality through its policies, programs, and by promoting an intersectional gendered lens. The Department:

Guiding this work are the department’s three primary roles:

Operating context

WAGE operates within the context of several federal and international policy instruments that support the principle of gender equality such as:

Progress in Canada over the past 50 years

Over 50 years ago, Canada looked different for women. They were paid substantially less than men, had limited representation in higher education, and were almost entirely absent from decision-making roles in businesses and in politics. These barriers were further amplified for underrepresented women, such as Indigenous women, women with disabilities, women from 2SLGBTQI+ communities, newcomer, racialized and migrant women.

As the women’s movement gained momentum, there were increasing calls to reform government and the law to address the gender pay gap, dismantle barriers to women’s employment and education, improve access to birth control, and address disproportionate rates of gender-based violence. This advocacy paved the way for important milestones such as the tabling of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada in 1970, and the establishment of the departmental agency Status of Women Canada in 1976. 

The creation of Status of Women Canada was a catalyst for government action, leading to important gains for women, including legislation to protect worker’s rights, and decriminalize abortion. 

The relationship between 2SLGBTQI+ communities and the federal government has historically been driven by activism and legal action to push for the progression of rights over the last 50 years. In 2016, a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues was appointed, and, shortly thereafter, a 2SLGBTQI+ Secretariat was created with the mandate to provide the federal government with pathways to address historical and ongoing injustices experienced by 2SLGBTQI+ people in Canada.  

In December 2018, new legislation transformed the agency named Status of Women Canada into WAGE, Canada’s first stand-alone federal department dedicated to advancing equality. Under an expanded mandate, WAGE continues to build on past progress for women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people.

Visit WAGE’s fifth anniversary timeline for a summary of progress since 2018. 

While there have been important gains made, including record levels of employment for women and increased awareness around 2SLGBTQI+ issues, barriers remain. This includes a rise in hate against 2SLGBTQI+ people, the continuing gender pay gap, and the underrepresentation of women and 2SLGBTQI+ people in leadership positions. Further, women still bear a disproportionate load of family care, receive less financing, and fewer opportunities as entrepreneurs.   

While celebrating progress, WAGE remains focused on the work left to do. Browse WAGE’s website to learn more and explore the actions you can take to build a safer, more equal, and inclusive Canada.

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