Department for Women and Gender Equality – Women’s Program 


One of the ways the Department for Women and Gender Equality advances gender equality in Canada is by providing funding to eligible organizations through the Women’s Program. Projects are selected via calls for proposals on specific themes, as well as through a continuous intake process that allows the Women’s Program to address emerging issues as they arise.                                                  

The Women’s Program funds projects that address systemic barriers to women’s equality in three priority areas: ending violence against women and girls; improving the economic security and prosperity of women and girls; and encouraging women and girls in leadership roles.

Capacity-building Call for Proposals

In October 2018, Minister Monsef announced a Call for Proposals under the Capacity-building Fund of the Women’s Program. The objective is to fund proposals that will increase the capacity of eligible women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women, whose initiatives contribute to a viable women’s movement in Canada that advances gender equality. Funding will increase the ability of organizations to grow, meet the increasing demands for their services, and continue to work collectively to address gender equality issues. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to help support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada.


Today’s announcement profiled four projects selected for federal funding:

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

Project title: Investing in Women's Rights Philanthropy

The project will increase the sustainability of Canada’s only gender-based violence legal clinic. It will create new, creative and innovative fundraising initiatives to help the organization continue to be a force for women’s rights. This increased funding will allow the organization to increase its services and outreach to isolated women who may be vulnerable or at risk of violence due to poverty, disability, geographic location, language barriers, precarious immigration, and work status.

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized legal clinic for women experiencing violence, established in the memory of Barbra Schlifer – an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario on April 11, 1980. The Clinic assists approximately 4,000 women annually to build lives free from violence through counselling, legal representation and language interpretation. They amplify women’s voices, and cultivate their skills and resilience. Together with their donors and volunteers, they are active in changing the conditions that threaten women’s safety, dignity and equality.

Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Project title: Strengthening Capacity to empower Muslim Women and Girls

The project will increase the organization’s ability to apply the gender and diversity lens known as Gender-based Analysis Plus to their services. This will help the organization better identify the intersecting challenges faced by Canadian Muslim women, and ultimately be better advocates for fair and equitable policies, programs, and services affecting Muslim women and girls.

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) is a not-for-profit organization that works to provide equity, equality and empowerment for all Canadian Muslim women. For the past 30 years, its proud and accomplished members have achieved and continue to achieve great milestones for Muslim women and Canada’s multicultural landscape. As a highly diverse organization, the CCMW is firmly committed to the overarching vision of improving the status of Muslim women to remain true to their Islamic heritage and Canadian identity.

DisAbled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN)

Project title: DAWN Canada Capacity Grant 2019-2023

The project will help the organization advance reform, research, education, and advocacy for women with disabilities. It will also help them work more effectively with their networks and partners by transferring knowledge about intersecting issues that affect women and girls with disabilities and deaf women and girls.

Established in 1986, the DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada (DAWN Canada) is a national, feminist, cross-disability, not-for-profit organization that works to end poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by women with disabilities and deaf women. As a resource centre for and about women with disabilities, it provides policy and program expertise, and works with an extensive network of partners.

Scarborough Women’s Centre

Project title: Strategically advancing gender equality (SAGE)

The project will support the Centre to meet the increased demands for services by the women in their community – the majority of which have at least one child, have a household income of less than $25,000, and are unemployed despite having some post-secondary education. It will also help the organization stay connected in the community, with the resources, knowledge and support needed to empower women to achieve independence.

Scarborough Women’s Centre is a community-based non-profit organization. Since 1982, they have touched the lives of 170,000 women and their children. Their service users are diverse in race, ethnicity, immigration status, faith, abilities, and sexual orientation and they range in age from 15 to 80. Many of their service users are dealing with issues related to isolation, abuse, newcomer integration, emotional health, and challenges related to employment. With support from staff, facilitators, volunteers and other women, they empower their service users to become economically and emotionally independent.

International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was observed on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. That day, more than one million people showed their support by participating in public events. In the years that followed, other countries began to observe and celebrate this day.

The United Nations recognized 1975 as International Women’s Year and began celebrating IWD on March 8. Two years later, in 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world – in many countries, it is a national holiday. It has grown to become a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and a call to action to support women’s rights and advance gender equality. Each year, the UN celebrates IWD with a theme that encourages discussion and action; the UN’s chosen theme for 2019 is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.

This year, the Department for Women and Gender Equality is following the UN’s lead and celebrating International Women’s Day with the #InnovateForChange campaign. We are proudly celebrating the women and girls, and women's organizations, who are breaking barriers and doing things differently to help all of us all Innovate for Change. By recognizing their achievements, we can inspire more women and girls and gender diverse people to follow in their footsteps.

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