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Gender Equality Network News

The Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC) is a unique three-year initiative to advance gender equality in Canada. Check out the latest coverage and updates about GENC, the Gender Equality Network Canada.

GENC National Meetings

    • 2019 – 4th National Meeting

      April 2019 – 4th GENC National Meeting, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

      Meeting Highlights:

      The 4th National Meeting of the Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC) was held April 1-2, 2019 in Saskatoon.

      Métis Knowledge Keeper and Elder May Henderson from Prince Albert, a recipient of the Saskatoon YWCA Women of Distinction Award and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, led opening and closing ceremonies.

      Young Women’s Perspectives:

      Award-winning Cree-Dene Métis artist and educator Zoey Roy delivered an inspiring keynote address based on her personal story of transformation. Zoey is a celebrated poet, musician, author, film-maker, advocate, community engagement consultant, and community-based educator.

      Fifteen girls from the “Girl Power” after-school group in Sturgeon Lake First Nation shared a presentation about the challenges facing their community and how they help find solutions.

      Network Development:

      A revised motion on the role of the GENC leaders and deliverables, raised at the 3rd National Meeting and moved forward through an online process, was successfully adopted. The motion affirmed that the principles of representation, decolonization and autonomy must be applied to the development of a National Action Plan on Gender Equality through a broad democratic consultation.

      The GENC leaders also adopted a revised motion on Connections, Relationships, and Responsibilities.

      Skills, Strategies, Approaches:

      Four GENC leaders led discussion of a Checklist for Inclusion, sharing strategies and actions for inclusive practices and policies, one of a series of activities at national meetings placing an intersectional inclusion lens with a disability focus on gender equality. The panelists discussed barriers such as physical access and lack of funding for ASL interpretation and similar supports, as well as ways program criteria, outreach, and communications practices may unintentionally limit access. GENC leaders applied the Checklist for Inclusion to policy asks in a subsequent discussion.


      GENC’s evening Gender Equality Fair, open to the public, was a lively opportunity to showcase local projects and share successes and challenges.

      Following a presentation on the traditional roles and responsibilities of Indigenous women as leaders, life keepers, storytellers, medicine women, artists, and word carriers, GENC leaders participated in The History Wall exercise, documenting key historical events in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Crown. Many Indigenous women in the room provided personal examples of this history, including being forcibly removed from family and community to be sent to residential school, the negative impact of the Indian Act, the 60s Scoop, the Oka crisis, constitutional recognition of Indigenous rights, successful court battles, and ongoing resistance.

      Plans and Policies:

      Working in small groups, GENC leaders revised a second draft outline of a National Action Plan on Gender Equality. As the meeting closed, one-third of GENC leaders present volunteered to work remotely between meetings to develop another iteration of the plan for the 5th National Meeting in November 2019.

      The GENC leaders met in working groups to continue development of Policy Asks and heard policy presentations from working groups on:

      • Childcare
      • Environment
      • Family law and violence against women
      • GBA research and data
      • Gender-based violence
      • Immigrant women
      • Indigenous women
      • Justice system responses to sexual violence
      • Women’s Leadership
    • 2018 – 3rd National Meeting

      October 2018 – 3rd GenC National Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia

      Meeting Highlights:

      The 3rd National Meeting of the Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC) was held October 15-16, 2018 in Vancouver.

      Elder Sharon Jinkerson-Brass of the Key First Nation in Saskatchewan and drummer and Elder Glida Morgan of the Northern Coast Salish Tla’amin First Nation led the opening and closing ceremonies.

      The Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, joined the meeting to announce new federal funding for capacity-building in women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women.

      Young Women’s Perspectives:

      Four young women from the Vancouver area shared their views on gender equity and equality in an opening panel discussion. Key points from the panelists included the need to challenge colonialized systems and beliefs and recognize the importance of inclusive design to allow people with disabilities to fully participate in society. Education has a central role—especially for youth and men—in creating safe spaces for people can talk about privilege, race, gender and other equity/equality concepts.


      • Wendy Simon, Dean of Student Services, Native Education College
      • Jana Husseini, disability activist
      • Riya Khanna, business student, UBC
      • Ryme Lahcene, settlement worker, Franklin School Board

      Network Development

      The GENC leaders formally adopted both consensus to vote decision-making – changing the previous model – and a communications policy.

      Discussion continued on the proposed Relationship Framework for GENC. With a decision-making process in place, GENC leaders introduced a motion to revise the goal of delivering a formal National Action Plan to the federal government. The motion entered an online deliberation process post-meeting.

      Skills, Strategies, Approaches:

      GENC leaders led a panel discussion on Inclusive, Integrated, and Intersectional Practices emphasizing the need to work directly with grassroots organizations that support marginalized women, including women with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, racialized women, refugee women, trans women and gender non-conforming people, and Indigenous women. Organizations need to offer leadership opportunities such as sitting on boards of directors. Small group discussion of practical ways to make their organizations more inclusive followed the panel.


      Eight GENC leaders took the stage for a panel on Strategies for Advancing Gender Equality, discussing the importance of decolonization for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people, challenging patriarchal norms and supporting women’s healing. They identified the need to work collaboratively and build allies, including engaging men to address sexual violence. Building relationships is especially important when working for legislative change, including working across party lines and working with both politicians and civil servants. It is important to know what has been tried before, to anticipate and plan for resistance, and to implement multiple strategies simultaneously.

      An evening event, Beyond GENC: Which Way Forward After 2020?, focused on what could happen after project funding ends in 2020. Panelists addressed the need for women’s organizations and networks to become fully intersectional and to share leadership. They also discussed the challenges of relying on corporate or government funding and the need for ongoing advocacy and working at multiple levels (federal, provincial, local).


      Plans and Policies:

      GENC leaders discussed a draft outline for the first iteration of a National Action Plan on Gender Equality, based on their input from the previous national meeting. Comments were compiled for redrafting.

      The Policy Ask Working Groups continued development of specific asks in the following areas:

      • Childcare
      • GBA and Research
      • Gender and Incarceration
      • Immigrant Women
      • Indigenous Women and Girls
      • Intersectionality and Inclusion
      • Justice System Responses to Sexual Assault
      • Sexual Exploitation
      • Violence Against Women and Family Law
      • Violence Against Women (General)
      • Women and Disabilities, Inclusion and Gender and Equality
      • Women and STEM
      • Women’s Leadership
      • Youth
    • 2018 – 2nd National Meeting

      April 2018 – 2nd GenC National Meeting, Halifax, Nova Scotia

      Meeting Highlights:

      The 2nd GENC National Meeting was held in Halifax on April 30-May 1, 2018.

      Elder Catherine Martin from Millbrook First Nation in Truro, Nova Scotia led opening and closing ceremonies.

      Over the two-day meeting, graphic recorder Bria Miller captured the activities and issues in a compelling large-format illustration. This video captures some of her process and project overview.

      Young Women’s Perspectives:

      To amplify the voices and perspective of young women in GENC discussions, young women from the region shared their views on gender equity and equality in a Youth Panel discussion. They discussed the critical importance of intersectionality and noted that while it’s important to describe challenges and barriers to equality, it’s equally important to articulate a vision for change and ensure multiple voices help to create that vision.


      • Bria Miller, artist, performer, youth arts educator & community facilitator
      • Jennifer O’Keefe, feminist researcher, Mount Saint Vincent University
      • Masuma Khan, Vice-President, Dalhousie Student Union
      • Nelly Dennene, Executive Director, Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick.

      Network Development:

      GENC leader Jennifer Richard presented on models for decision-making, and the leaders discussed revising their decision-making process. They continued discussion on the Relationship Framework/Terms of Reference for the network and refinement of both models continued post-meeting online. The online community of practice was launched prior to the meeting and support to access it was provided during the meeting.

      GENC leaders heard highlights from Women’s Equality in Canada: An Environmental Scan, prepared for the project through interviews with activists and leaders across the country. The report identifies action on violence against women, poverty and economic security, and equality for Indigenous women, and the application of an intersectional lens, as key to achieving gender equality in Canada. Download the Executive Summary or Full Report.

      Skills, Strategies, Approaches:

      GENC leaders presented success stories in advancing gender equality on a panel and then delved deeper into how success was achieved in small group discussions. The need for core ongoing funding for equality initiative was clearly identified.


      During the two-day meeting, GENC leaders discussed strategies to increase inclusion at national meetings for women with disabilities and women who attend with children.

      Plans and Policies:

      GENC leaders participated in small group discussions to develop a vision for a National Action Plan on Gender Equality.

      The Policy Ask Working Groups continued their discussions on policy asks on a range of topics:

      • Access to Sexual Violence Services
      • Childcare
      • Economic Security and Work
      • Feminist Organizing
      • Gender and Incarceration
      • Gender-Based Analysis, Research and Data
      • Gender-Based Violence and Violence Against Women
      • Housing
      • Immigrant Women
      • Indigenous Women and Girls
      • Intersectionality and Inclusion
      • Justice System Responses to Sexual Assault and Violence
      • Sexual Exploitation
      • Violence Against Women and Family Law
      • Women in STEM and Women in Trades
      • Women with Disabilities, Inclusion and Gender Equity
      • Women’s Leadership
      • Youth
    • 2017 – 1st National Meeting

      September 2017 – Launch and 1st National Meeting, Toronto, Ontario

      Meeting Highlights

      The first National Meeting of the Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC) was held in Toronto on September 18-20, 2017.

      Elder Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinabe Elder from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, opened and closed the two-day meeting.

      The Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, formally announced the launch of the Gender Equality Network Canada initiative.

      Watch the Introduction to GENC video, with photos from the 1st National Meeting.

      Read the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s blog post – Gender Equality Network Canada: A brand new initiative to advance gender equality.

      Young Women’s Perspectives:

      To amplify the perspective of young women in GENC discussions, young women from the Toronto area shared their views on gender equity and equality in a lively Youth Panel Discussion.


      • Andrea (Andy) Villanueva, Latina activist and film director
      • Awo Abokor, community-based educator and facilitator
      • Dvorah Silverman, Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator, YWCA Toronto
      • Nasma Ahmed, technologist and capacity builder
      • Sydney Piggott, YWCA Canada, graduate student, Munk School of Global Affairs
      • Wendy De Souza, popular education workshop facilitator
      • Cassandra Zaugg-Fraser, student, University of Wilfrid Laurier University

      Network Development:

      GENC leaders discussed development of a Relationship Framework (Terms of Reference) to clarify their responsibilities as GENC leaders. After discussion and testing, a consensus process was adopted for decision-making. Working Groups were set up to continue network development between national meetings.

      GENC leaders heard an overview of the Consultative Committee – 17 organizations focused on advancing gender equality in Canada – established prior to the first National Meeting to facilitate input of national women’s and gender equality organizations. The proposed online community of practice and evaluation framework were presented. GENC leaders provided input into the development of a communications plan.

      Skills, Strategies, Approaches:

      The GENC leaders participated enthusiastically in constructing a Feminist History Timeline, an exercise on historic events and issues that led to discussing progress on women’s and gender equality in Canada

      Guest speakers Farrah Khan, Provincial Roundtable on Violence Against Women in Ontario, Caroline Jacquet, Fédération des femmes du Québec and Cora Lee McGuire, Ontario Native Women’s Association, shared learnings and strategies from their initiatives on gender equality.

      A major highlight for the GENC leaders was meeting in small issue-focused groups for the first-time, where they shared knowledge about their local gender equality projects and discussed ways they could work together for policy change

      Plans and Policies:

      GENC leaders began establishing Policy Ask Working Groups to meet in-between National Meetings to develop detailed policy and funding asks on issues such as Economic Security, Health, Housing, Immigration, Indigenous Women, Justice, and Violence Against Women.

      Using the consensus model, GENC leaders adopted a statement calling for a ‘reset’ of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Women’s Equality in Canada: An Environmental Scan

Executive Summary and Final Report

Blog Posts

Gender Equality Network Canada: A brand new initiative to advance gender equality


Introducing the Gender Equality Network Canada:
Video recap of the first national GENC meeting in Toronto, October 2017

Meet the Gender Equality Network Canada!
An overview of the GENC initiative

Toronto Youth Panel Discussion

Halifax Youth Panel Discussion

Vancouver Youth Panel Discussion