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2016: still feels like it's 2015! 

Julia SanchezPrime Minister Trudeau, on the day he took office, coined the phrase “because it’s 2015” when he was asked to explain why he had appointed a perfectly gender-balanced cabinet. With that important act, and that simple phrase, Canada made history by conforming its first ever cabinet with gender parity. It does not look like we will be winning the Stanley Cup any day soon, but hey, we just might go higher than we ever have before on championing women’s rights at home and abroad!

The unfortunate thing is that this happened in November, and so we were only able to use the phrase “because it’s 2015” for a few weeks before it was 2016. However, the PM symbolically opened the flood gates of a force which has been building over years and decades. Declaring himself a feminist some months later while at the World Economic Forum in Davos made things that much more interesting – providing a clear signal, from the highest level, of the changes that are possible around women’s rights and gender equality in this country.

As a development practitioner, having spent much of my professional life in developing countries working on projects and programs that incorporated women’s empowerment, women’s rights and gender equity issues, I often felt challenged by what we were and were not doing in Canada on related issues. Were we setting the right example for others to follow? Were we walking the talk? Were we pushing the envelope far enough, given the privileged position that we were starting from? And what about the situation of marginalized women in our society – and in particular of indigenous women?

Even if the situation for women in Canada has been generally much better than that of many of our sisters in developing countries, and even in many developed countries, in recent years, there was a growing sense that we were losing some of the ground that had been won through much struggle by our mothers and grandmothers before us. Many women’s rights groups lost their government funding, services for women in certain critical areas were being curtailed, and we seemed to have plateaued on a number of indicators of empowerment and equity. The term feminist was perceived in many circles as “the f word” and women’s rights, and especially sexual and reproductive rights, became “contentious issues”.

Now there is a sense we might soon be on track to finally close the gender wage gap. That we will see parity not only in cabinet, but also in parliament, in the senate, in the higher ranks of civil service, on boards, in leadership positions in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors, in universities, in the media. That we will finally have an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. And that we will again talk openly about the importance of upholding women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.

And all this feels like it is at arm’s reach not because we have a Prime Minister who declared that it was high time, or because he has taken an important stance on many of these issues by declaring himself a feminist. It is rather because our Prime Minister is in the right place at the right time – that place being Canada and that time being now.

In the international development sector we have seen an increasing number of leadership positions occupied by smart, courageous and creative women. A large number of organizations in the sector are working in international development and humanitarian assistance with a focus on women and girls, on women’s rights and on gender equality. And several with a clear commitment to a feminist approach. The CCIC’s Emerging Leaders’ Network has attracted predominantly young women professionals in the sector. There is a definite sense of positive momentum.

Last year, one of the most energizing collective projects was the Up for Debate Campaign. It brought together more than 175 women’s groups from across the country, working domestically or internationally on women’s rights issues. Up for Debate called on party leaders to debate women’s issues in the context of the election campaign. CCIC had women’s rights and gender equality as one of three priority themes in the We Can Do Better 2015 campaign. And this year, CCIC is holding its first ever Women Leaders’ Forum which will bring together leaders from member organizations to discuss women in politics, advocacy and the new government, and to build skills to intervene more effectively in the public discourse. We will also celebrate women’s leadership, with a soiree co-hosted by the Museum of Nature, which will include inspiring Ignite Speakers and the launch of The Karen Takacs Award for Women’s Leadership in International Development. Ministers Hajdu and Bibeau will be addressing the room, and other Ministers, MPs, senior public servants, sector and cultural leaders have been invited to share in the excitement of the promise of a new day.

Happy international women’s day. I am quite excited about the promise of what we can accomplish in the months and years to come – may Canada once again show the way on women’s rights and gender equity!


In solidarity,

Twitter: @JSanchezCCIC

Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear from you! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.


Job openings in the sector!

Job OpeningsIf you -or someone you know- is looking for an exciting position in international development and humanitarian assistance, make sure that you visit CCIC's employment page! Canadian Feed the Children, World Renew and CCIC, among others, are recruiting experienced and passionate individuals. And if your organization wants to post an ad, send it to:

70 days until International Cooperation Days 2016!

71 days until International Cooperation Days 2016The 2016 CCIC Annual Conference is quickly-approaching! "Fit for purpose? CSO transformation for Agenda 2030" focuses on the challenges and opportunities facing civil society organizations (CSOs) in a new era of global development cooperation. Recently, the 2015 UN sustainable development summit reaffirmed and strengthened our global commitment to the sustainable development goals. COP21 resulted in the Paris agreement – a turning point for action to limit climate change. And for Canada, a new government means new opportunities for consultation, policy review and leadership.  

We CSOs find ourselves at a critical moment to rethink and revaluate how we work. 2016 is a strategic moment to influence the future direction of Canadian development cooperation.  "Fit for purpose? CSO transformation for Agenda 2030" will unpack the new global agendas through plenary, intensive action-oriented workshops, and side-events. The conference will feature three streams: policy, programming and partnership. Participants can stick to one stream or mix and match! Please visit the Conference Website for further details and exciting updates!

New Webpage for the CCIC Emerging Leaders Network

ELN WebpageThe CCIC Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) is thrilled to launch its first webpage! Please visit often for ELN member contact information, current activities, upcoming events and much more. The ELN is currently busy working on a pre-conference event on May 10th as well as a workshop for the 2016 CCIC Conference.

PM Trudeau's first 100 days

PM Justin Trudeau's first 100 daysOn February 12, the new federal government marked 100 days since being sworn in on November 4. CCIC has welcomed several decisions of the government in this very early period, including the phasing out of the special program on charitable audits for political activities; a strongly expressed commitment to action on climate change and refugee resettlement; and a clear defence of humanitarian principles in response to the situation in Iraq and Syria. CCIC has had several meetings with Minister Bibeau, as well as with her chief of staff and officials at Global Affairs Canada, to discuss priority issues for civil society. We look forward to working with the government throughout the development and implementation of its international cooperation agenda. Just as the government hit the 100-day milestone, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Ottawa and Montreal on February 11-13. The Secretary-General met with the Prime Minister, the Governor General, senior ministers, the premier of Quebec and mayor of Montreal, students, and leaders of civil society organizations. CCIC attended a reception dinner hosted by the Prime Minister and presented its recent edited volume on the Sustainable Development Goals to the Secretary-General.

CCIC's submission to pre-budget consultation

CCICs submission to pre-budget consultationA week ahead of the Finance Committee’s pre-Budget consultations, CCIC submitted its brief to the Committee. Entitled, “Smart, Transparent and Impactful Aid,” this brief outlines some priority opportunities where Budget 2016 can make meaningful and practical contributions to Canadian and global objectives in the areas of international development and humanitarian assistance – working in collaboration with all development actors to improve the effectiveness of Canada’s development cooperation. The brief touches upon five areas where we can do this: through a ten-year timetable for increasing our ODA; greater transparency over spending; a strong focus on the poorest and most marginalized, in particular women; a humanitarian response commensurate with growing needs; and a commitment to new and additional climate finance. CCIC made a request to appear before Committee, supported by different parties, but was not called. The brief was circulated widely to relevant ministerial offices, government and opposition parliamentarians, senior officials within the various parties, key bureaucrats, media, coalitions, and the public through social media.

Report of UN-SG for the World Humanitarian Summit

On February 9, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report in advance of the World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul on May 23-24. The report, entitled One Humanity, Shared Responsibility, lays out what it calls an Agenda for Humanity: a five-point plan for a better global humanitarian system, with associated concrete recommendations to be explored and implemented through the summit. The five areas for action are:

  • Global leadership on ending and preventing conflict, emphasizing sustained and inclusive action;
  • Upholding humanity’s norms, through consistent application of international humanitarian law, and a strong political and judicial response to violations;
  • Leaving no one behind, in line with the sustainable development goals, and with a specific focus on reducing displacement and empowering women, children and minorities;
  • Shifting the paradigm from delivering aid to ending need, by favouring local, cash-based, and data-oriented initiatives and bringing humanitarian and development objectives in line; and
  • Investing in humanity, with emphasis on building local capacity, disaster risk reduction, and improving and increasing financing to achieve collective outcomes over a multi-year timeframe.

CCIC continues to engage with it's members and Global Affairs Canada in support of strong Canadian participation in the summit, from both the government and civil society.

Welcome to CCIC's new Regional Working Group officer!

Isabelle BourassaOn February 16, Isabelle Bourassa began her CCIC career as the new Regional Working Group Officer – coordinating the activities of the Americas Policy Group, the Africa-Canada Forum and the Asia-Pacific Working Group.  Isabelle brings a wealth of experience in terms of government relations, communications and facilitation. After completing her Bachelors in Communications, she worked for twelve years for Radio Canada as both a reporter and associate producer. Her passion in international relations took her to Laval University where she did a Masters in International Studies, focused on international law, political science and economics. She did several electoral observation missions with the Organization of American States in Haiti, El Salvador and Guatemala and also in Ukraine with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  Most recently and for the past five years, she has been working on the Hill as a Parliamentary Assistant to an NDP Member of Parliament, coordinating a host of roundtables and public fora, and drafted briefs, speeches, publications and op eds. She is completely trilingual in English, French and Spanish. CCIC has just launched the process to hire a full-time Program Assistant to help Isabelle in the task of coordinating the activities of the three Working Groups.


Oxfam Québec - profile image
Denise Byrnes (Oxfam-Quebec's Executive Director) and Oxfam GB's Chief Executive meet the Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp, Jordan.

This month CCIC met with Denise Byrnes, Executive Director at Oxfam-Québec to discuss women’s rights, the new volunteer sending program, why Canadians should care about tax havens and much more…

March 8th is International Women's Day. This year's theme is Pledge for Parity, celebrating and championing the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Why is it important to focus on gender parity in 2016?

Because it's 2016!  Humour aside, achieving gender equality is key if we want to realise the sustainable development goals and build equitable societies.  We know that women continue to do the bulk of unpaid work, earn lower salaries for the same work as men,  and in many countries, are concentrated in the informal sector, with little security and poor wages.  This leaves many women unable to pay for adequate health care for themselves or their children or to send their children to school.  This is a cycle that perpetuates poverty from one generation to another.   How can a society move forward economically and socially if it leaves half its population behind?  We know that when women have decent pay and access to adequate social services, they and their children can achieve their full potential and break free from this cycle.   Unfortunately, even in Canada, women continue to face strong barriers when it comes to gender equality, both in the private and public spheres.  Gender-based violence, discrimination and poverty continue to limit equality. The reality is that women continue to make up the bulk of the world's poor so our work is far from over!

      Read More


Special Issue on International Cooperation in Le Devoir – AQOCI

ial Issue on International Cooperation in Le Devoir


Each year, the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI) and its members organize a series of events during International Development Week (IDW, first week of February). The focus this year was on refugees and a special issue was published in Le Devoir, including one article where CCIC was quoted. AQOCI also launched a comic book Salima, d’Alep à Joliette which depicts the journey of a woman refugee from Syria.

Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – Action Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health and RightsThis report submitted by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights examines violations of articles 10 and 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), with respect to ensuring access to safe abortion services without discrimination; providing young people with access to accurate, evidence-based sexuality education; incidences of forced sterilization; and the denial of sexual and reproductive health care on moral or religious grounds.

Write for a Better World – World Literacy Canada

Write for a Better WorldWorld Literacy Canada launched its national writing contest Write for a Better World open to students in grades 5 to 8. The contest invites students to write an original story describing what happens next in 400 words or less: “People often say that “every person is the hero of their own story.” What they don’t know is that sometimes you are villain in someone else’s story. This is the story of the day I learned that lesson the hard way.” The deadline for submitting a story is April 15th.


New in Development Unplugged

New in Development UnpluggedSoon celebrating one year of existence, CCIC's blog Development Unplugged has become a popular platform for cutting edge and critical thinking on international development and other global issues. Latest articles published in February include a post on how Canada can revamp its strategy on food security, by Kai-Hsin Hung, as well as a summary and reflections on the new Canadian international guidelines for addressing gender-based violence (GBV) during humanitarian operations, written by CCIC's Policy Officer Gavin Charles. Articles can be submitted to Chantal Havard.

Respond to the International Policy Ideas Challenge!

Respond to the International Policy IdeasGlobal Affairs Canada recently launched its first International Policy Ideas Challenge, designed to identify concrete innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges. The contest is open to talented graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in Canada. The deadline for application is March 31.

An Economy for the 1%

An Economy for 1%According to a new Oxfam Briefing paper, the richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined, and 62 billionaires own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people on the planet. This report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality; for example women continue to be dramatically overrepresented in precarious and low wage work. The promotion of the report includes a call to action aimed at PM Trudeau, asking his government to tackle inequality and climate change and support women's rights.

Syria Crisis Fair Share Analysis

Syria Crisis Fair Share AnalysisThe number of people in need as a result of the conflict in Syria continues to rise, but the international aid response has failed to keep up. Oxfam is calling for rich states to commit to fully funding this year’s Syria crisis response appeal and to resettle 10 percent of all registered Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Oxfam has developed indicators to determine the fair level of commitment that each wealthy country should make to the appeals in 2016 to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the Syria crisis.

Measuring impact, not administration: A primer on charity overhead

A 2013 survey by the Muttart Foundation found that 74% of Canadians believe charities spend too much on salaries and administration. Imagine Canada observes that a focus on overhead —"the ongoing expenses of a charity that cannot be directly attributed to any specific charitable activity, but may still be necessary for the charity to function”— is an indication that the nonprofit sector is not well understood and that evaluation of the sector is based on the wrong metrics. A recent article explores this issue, the myth around it, the law in Canada, if charities should spend more or less on overhead, as well as how donors should measure effectiveness.

New Report on Canadian mining policies in Haiti

New Report on Canadian Mining Policies in HaitiConcertation pour Haiti (CPH) recently published a report asking the federal government to change the 5 year strategy for Haiti adopted in June 2015 by the previous government. According to CPH, the current strategy focuses too much on rebuilding Haiti with the mining sector and should instead embrace a whole range of issues, including agriculture, education, social economy, and sustainable tourism. On a related note, an article published earlier this month in Le Devoir states that the government's evaluation of Canada’s development program in Haiti between 2006-2013 concluded that most interventions had produced positive results, in contrast with the negative assessment made by former Minister of International Development Julian Fantino.

A Global Review for Canada: Opinion and Insights

A Global Review for Canada: Opinion and Insights



Affairs Canada, in partnership with Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, released its comprehensive foreign policy review : A Global Review for Canada: Insights and Options. The review covers a range of key areas including defence, foreign aid, climate change and refugees. An assessment of past policies and policy recommendations are included.

Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action

Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action


The GBV Guidelines have been revised from the 2005 version by an inter-agency Task Team led by UNICEF and UNFPA, and endorsed by the IASC in 2015. The purpose of the Guidelines is to assist humanitarian actors and communities affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the prevention and mitigation of GBV across all sectors of humanitarian response.

New Book: Beyond Colonialism, Development and Globalization

Beyond Colonialism, Development and Globalization



Dominique Caouette and Dip Kapoor just published a book which show social movements in the Global South are rejecting the Western-centric notions of development and modernization to create their own alternatives. Beyond Colonialism, Development and Globalization represents a radical break with the prevailing narrative of modernization, and points to a bold new direction for development studies.

New international bilingual review: Humanitarian Alternatives

New International Bilingual review: Humanitarian Alternatives



Humanitarian Alternatives is the project of an international bilingual journal, initiated and supported by four foundations: the Action Against Hunger Foundation, the French Red-Cross Fund, the Handicap International Foundation and the Mérieux Foundation – in collaboration with a network of partner universities and institutes being developed. An inaugural issue on Ebola was recently published.


Global Affairs 'considering' UN gigs for youth
Embassy | February 16, 2016

Canada’s development aid: will Trudeau make a difference?
Global Kiosk | February 15, 2016

Pas de virage à 180 degrés
Le Devoir | February 6, 2016

To maximize visibility, Canada needs clearer targets for aid
Embassy | February 3, 2016

Trudeau’s Foreign Policy: Development and Trade
CPAC | February 1, 2016

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: A Canadian Perspective
Together 2030 Blog | January 28, 2016

Fin de auditoría a organismos de beneficencia canadienses no sorprende al CCCI
Radio Canada International | January 27, 2016


First CCIC Women’s Leaders’ Forum
March 10-11, 2016
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

International Cooperation Days 2016
May 10, 2016 Evening Public Event co-hosted with University of Ottawa and CAIDP

May 11-12, 2016 CCIC Annual Conference - Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health

May 13, 2016 Global Affairs Canada Consultation
Save the date!


Le Gala drôlement bénéfique d’Oxfam-Québec
Montreal, Quebec
March 1st, 2016

Happy New Feminist Year- 2016 Femmys
Ottawa, Ontario
March 8, 2016

The Hill Times Events: An International Women’s Day Discussion on Gender Equality
Ottawa, Ontario
March 8, 2016

Smart Global Development conference
Ottawa, Ontario
April 13-14, 2016

Le financement du développement et les objectifs de développement durable : quel modèle, pour qui, et par qui?
Montreal, Quebec
April 18, 2016

CIVICUS International Civil Society Week: Active Citizens, Accountable Actions
Bogotá, Colombia
April 25-28, 2016

CAIDP's Annual Conference - Renewal: A New Era for International Development Professionals
Ottawa, Ontario
May 9-10, 2016

2016 CALACS Conference: Hybrid Communities, Societies, Spaces, and Subjectivities
Calgary, Alberta
June 1-3, 2016

2016 World Social Forum
Montreal, Quebec
August 9-14, 2016

2016 Canadian Humanitarian Conference: Canada’s role as a humanitarian actor on the global stage
Ottawa, Ontario
October 6-7, 2016

If you have an item for Flash!, you may send it to Chantal Havard. Please note that items should be no longer than 150 words.

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