Government of Canada celebrates International Women’s Day by making historic investment in women’s movement

News release

Over 250 projects from women’s and Indigenous organizations across Canada will receive funding to ensure they can continue providing essential supports to women and their families

March 8, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario – Department for Women and Gender Equality

Women’s organizations provide essential services to our communities, supporting women and girls to be financially secure, free from violence, and able to fully participate in all aspects of our economy and society. Yet for far too long they have been chronically underfunded, underestimated and undermined. The Government of Canada recognizes that women’s organizations are the lifeblood of the women’s movement and that maintaining and growing their ability to do this important work is the most effective way to advance gender equality.

That’s why today, on International Women’s Day, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality together with the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Member of Parliament for York South–Weston, announced that the government will invest in over 250 projects from women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women across Canada under the Capacity-building Fund. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada.

The announcement was made at the Daniels Spectrum Artscape, where Ministers Monsef and Hussen highlighted four of the projects that will receive funding:

  • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic will receive $250,000 for Investing in Women's Rights Philanthropy, which will help the specialized legal clinic create new, creative and innovative fundraising opportunities to help the organization continue to be a force for women’s rights. This increased funding will also enable improved 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.
  • Canadian Council of Muslim Women will receive $761,720 for Strengthening Capacity to empower Muslim Women and Girls, which 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 interconnecting challenges faced by Canadian Muslim women, and ultimately be better advocates for fair and equitable policies, programs, and services affecting Muslim women and girls.
  • DisAbled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN) will receive $830,959 for DAWN Canada Capacity Grant 2019-2023, which will help the organization to advance reform, research, education, and advocacy for women and girls with disabilities or who are deaf. It will also help the organization work more effectively with its networks and partners by transferring knowledge about interconnecting issues that affect women and girls with disabilities and deaf women and girls.
  • Scarborough Women’s Centre will receive $209,240 for Strategically Advancing Gender Equality (S.A.G.E.), which will help them meet the increased demands for services from 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.

The funding stems from a call for proposals announced by Minister Monsef in October 2018. Other projects related to this call for proposals will be announced in the coming months.


“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the women and women’s organizations breaking through barriers, and express our gratitude to those who have been doing this work for decades on little more than a shoestring budget. The women’s movement across Canada has been asking for a reliable, predictable and accessible source of funds to ensure the sustainability of their work. Our government listened. With this stable and flexible funding we are helping them scale up so they can grow and endure, because we know that investing in women’s organizations is the most effective way to advance gender equality. By supporting a movement that has achieved amazing results, we are growing the middle class, strengthening families and communities, and creating lasting change that benefits everyone.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality

“Since we were founded in 1985, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic has assisted more than 65,000 women. In 2018 alone, the Clinic provided vital resources to more than 9,000 women in need of our support. With this federal support, we can continue to help women build lives free from violence.”

Amanda Dale, Executive Director
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

“It’s our mission to support Canadian Muslim women and promote an understanding of our lived experiences through community engagement, research, public policy, and positive change. We are honoured to be receiving this federal support to sustain our efforts. It is especially special to us that the announcement today was made by Canada’s first Muslim federal Cabinet Minister.”

Nuzhat Jafri, Executive Director
Canadian Council of Muslim Women

“Twenty-four percent of women in Canada have a disability. With this federal support, we can continue our work to end the poverty, discrimination, and violence experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women.”

Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director
DisAbled Women’s Network Canada

“We are grateful to be selected for this crucial funding, which will help our Centre better support women dealing with isolation, abuse, newcomer integration, emotional health, and employment challenges. This will not only help individual women, but their families and communities too.”

Lynda Kosowan, Executive Director
Scarborough Women’s Centre 

Quick facts

  • The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #InnovateForChange, celebrating the women and girls who are thriving in fields where they are underrepresented and who find innovative solutions to the challenges they face in their communities, their work, and the world.

  • International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world, as a day to recognize women’s achievements, and a call to action to advance gender equality.

  • Some populations are more likely to experience violence and may face unique barriers and challenges that put them at particular risk (Statistics Canada, 2015).

  • Gender-based violence can have lifelong impacts on an individual's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Additionally, the effects can be serious and costly. Annually, the economic impact of intimate partner violence and sexual assault is estimated to be more than $12 billion.

  • Women continue to be disproportionately affected by economic insecurity. In 2015, women in Canada earned just 88 cents for every dollar earned by men. They are also much more likely to work on a part-time basis, making up 76% of all part-time workers, with 25% of women reporting childcare responsibilities as their reason for working part-time.

  • The Women’s Program at the Department for Women and Gender Equality supports eligible organizations to carry out projects to advance equality by addressing systemic barriers.

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Braeson Holland
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality

Valérie Haché
Communications Officer
Department for Women and Gender Equality

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