Tackling Inequalities in the Global Economy: Making Canada's Foreign Policy Work for Women


With a feminist Prime Minister and a government committed to feminist policy making, there is a real opportunity for Canada to take a global leadership role in accelerating progress for women and girls, especially those living in poverty.

Oxfam recognizes that women’s rights and gender equality are essential to ending poverty and social injustice. Through this policy series, Oxfam Canada will analyze what a feminist foreign policy should look like, and how the Government of Canada can take concrete steps towards realizing its ambition.

Gender inequality shapes and structures the economy from the local to the global level. It affects the jobs that women and men do, what is considered and valued as work, and what issues become priorities in policy making. Feminist economic policies are needed to address these inequalities and ensure women can enjoy their economic rights.

The high-level political commitment of the Canadian government to the design and implementation a feminist foreign policy is a welcome initiative, and one that potentially places Canada at the forefront of thinking globally on diplomacy, trade and development. Realizing that potential will require a re-examination of current policies and explicit efforts to invest in new or traditionally under-prioritized approaches that tackle gender inequality.  Achieving the goals of a feminist foreign policy requires moving beyond helping women to benefit from existing economic opportunities. It requires an understanding of the unequal gendered power dynamics that infringe on women’s rights, and policies designed to transform such dynamics.

Bringing to bear Oxfam Canada’s long experience in the promotion of economic development and women’s rights, this paper examines a feminist approach to three economic dimensions of Canada’s foreign policy: international trade, corporate accountability and international development assistance.

It offers practical suggestions and analytical tools for taking a feminist policy agenda forward, to ensure policies go beyond business-as-usual to address deep-rooted gender inequalities in the economy. In doing so, it seeks to support Canada to realize its ambition of supporting women’s rights and gender equality around the world.

Publication Date: 
November 2017