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

by Oxfam Canada | November 27, 2017
Background media: An elderly Vietnamese woman with light skin and brown eyes wears a conical leaf hat and a multi-coloured scarf around her head, chin and neck. She wears a long-sleeved khaki button-down shirt and is standing in front of a rice and vegetable farm in Me Linh District near Hanoi, Vietnam.
Adam Patterson / Oxfam

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.

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