A Feminist International Policy
What’s in the name?
We explore this question, amongst others, at CAIDP’s 2018 conference, Gender Equality, Inclusive Governance and the Law: Aligned for a Better World – Jan 22nd and 23rd in Ottawa. In the lead up, we have asked Canadian thought leaders to weigh in on what’s in the name. Here, we ask Paul LaRose-Edwards to tell us what he is thinking about. Paul is Executive Director of CANADEM, an international not-for-profit NGO dedicated to advancing international peace and security through the rostering and rapid mobilization of experts committed to International Service with the UN, other IGOs, NGOs, and governments. Read what Paul says and then tell us what you think.
What Paul and CANADEM seek in a Canadian foreign policy is something quite specific; “simply, more women” in international positions to take concrete action. CANADEM is a proponent of the 1325 UN Reform Initiative. After 16 years, innumerable exhortations and high level commitments, the UN has not moved far forward on achieving the Security Council Resolution 1325 goal of UN staffing gender balance.
Paul says it this way, “UN and Canadian policy statements do not make change, people taking action make change”. He continues, “and the closer individuals with the right skills are to a problem, the better placed they are to make change if, that is, they recognize that something is wrong - “Hey guys, this is gender-imbalanced!” And only if they have the knowledge of how to effect change – “I know how to involve the women community leaders”. The more complicated the challenge like that of the ‘1325’ reform, the more experience people need to make the change happen”.
As to solutions, Paul says, “Just put strong capable women in mission and on the ground; they will better recognize gender based problems and how to effect change locally so as to incrementally change the world globally”. CANADEM’s solution to achieving 1325 gender equality is to get more highly qualified women into UN operations. “Some call it simplistic; we think of it as practical”, Paul says. “Unfortunately, the UN is not very good at rostering women, it has hundreds of mini rosters, and most will not or cannot share between themselves. Fortunately, agencies like CANADEM over the past two decades have developed work-arounds”.
Paul argues that Canada can play a unique role in advancing 1325 UN reform by showcasing strong women for international service. CANADEM’s roster has 12,826 women, 3,157 of them from the global south including Africa and the Middle East – many supporting protection efforts against sexual and gender-based violence and promoting women's greater participation in conflict resolution including peace agreements, and post-conflict political, economic and civil reconstruction processes. Showcase them with the UN who can then hire the best.
About the conference itself, Paul says as always it is a prime place to network and achieve synergies, and it is particularly timely this year as it can help Global Affairs Canada in the ‘deliverology’ of Canadian foreign policy and 1325.