Government of Canada invests in projects to improve gender equality in the justice system

News release

July 16, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Women and Gender Equality Canada

To achieve meaningful and lasting gender equality in Canada, we must work together at all levels of government and across all sectors to ensure that everyone can live in a safe, equal, and just society.

That’s why today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, announced that the Government of Canada is investing nearly $2 million in national women’s legal organizations to help women receive greater support from, and fair and equal treatment by, Canada’s justice system.

  • National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is receiving more than $980,000 to increase the meaningful participation of women in the law-making process. They will be developing a national law reform network that will foster collaboration between feminist law students, legal academics, lawyers, and women’s organizations to achieve greater gender equality in the justice system.
  • Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is receiving $880,000 to develop a modern, intersectional, and feminist strategic litigation plan that will enable feminists and gender equality advocates to address systemic barriers to gender equality and eliminate gender discrimination.

Today’s announcement also highlighted two projects currently underway receiving funding under Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE)’s Women’s Program that seek to improve gender equality in the justice system. Bringing the total investment by WAGE in women’s legal organizations to over $2.8 million, they are:

  • Empowering Women for Community Action, a project involving LEAF, METRAC: Action on Violence, and the Women’s Centre for Social Justice designed to strengthen the justice system’s response to women survivors of sexual violence; and
  • Dismantling the Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault, in which, West Coast LEAF and the YWCA Metro Vancouver are working to eliminate barriers in the justice system that impede how women report sexual assaults in Vancouver. 


“Ensuring that women and gender diverse peoples are engaged in, and supported by, our legal and justice systems is a priority for our government. For far too long, change-making feminist legal organizations like LEAF, West Coast LEAF and NAWL have been undervalued, underfunded and undermined, but no more. With stable and flexible funding, we are helping organizations like these grow and endure, because 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 a more just and equal society for everyone.”

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

“As a proudly feminist not-for-profit, NAWL has been leading feminist law reform advocacy to advance the equality rights of women in Canada since 1974. Thanks to this crucial investment from the Government of Canada, we will be able to strengthen our organization, expand our collaborations with other women’s equality-seeking organizations, and ultimately have a bigger impact on public policy.”

Suki Beavers, Director
National Association of Women and the Law

“LEAF has established a reputation as an expert in constitutional equality law, and this is thanks to the dedication and talent of amazing advocates from across the country who have donated their time and efforts to our organization. Our new five-year Strategic Litigation Plan will allow us to build on this expertise and continue working towards gender equality in Canada. We can only build this Plan through collaboration and consultation with other organizations and individuals engaged in feminist advocacy and service delivery. We invite other organizations to reach out to us and share their knowledge and perspectives on the lived experiences of those impacted most by the law. With this new federal investment, we can integrate this wealth and diversity of expertise into a clear, leading voice for substantive equality in Canada.”

Megan Stephens, Executive Director & General Counsel
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

Quick facts

  • Budget 2018 announced $100 million over five years to support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada. Adding to this historic investment, Budget 2019 proposes to invest a further $160 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, in the Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Women’s Program. This means that by 2023–24, the Women’s Program, which supports eligible organizations to carry out projects to advance equality by addressing systemic barriers, will total $100 million annually. 

  • This funding will enable women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women to tackle systemic barriers impeding women’s progress, while recognizing and addressing the diverse experiences of gender and inequality across the country.

  • To date, the Government of Canada has invested over $200 million to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and create more responsive legal and justice systems.

  • In 2017, women accounted for nearly 8 out of 10 incidents of intimate partner violence reported to the police in Canada.

  • In 2017, 14 per cent of sexual assaults reported to all police forces in Canada (e.g., federal, provincial, municipal) were classified as unfounded.

  • From January 2015 through October 2018, 53 per cent of all federally appointed or elevated judges were women.

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

Valérie Haché
Senior Communications Advisor
Department for Women and Gender Equality

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