The 30th International Development Week is being celebrated this week, February 2-8, by the Government of Canada, civil society organizations and advocates through events held across Canada.
Bhutan Canada Foundation joined in on the celebration by partnering with World Vision Canada and Humber College to host an event on ‘Gender Equality Through Disruption: Innovation as a Way Forward’. This event brought together a diverse group of over 100 international development practitioners, activists, and students to share various perspectives and encourage critical dialogue on achieving gender equality globally.
Gender equality is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. These 17 goals are part of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global plan of action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.1 All United National Member states adopted the Global Goals in 2015 to ‘leave no one behind.2 With only a decade until 2030, this year’s International Development Week is a chance to highlight the efforts Canadians are making to #GoForTheGoals.
To kickoff the event, a keynote speech was delivered by Shakila Zareen, a young Afghani woman who was shot in the face by her husband. She spoke about her traumatic experiences as a survivor of child marriage and domestic violence and abuse. By continuing to speak out against her abusers and systems that refused to protect women experiencing abuse, Shakila demonstrated the power of advocacy to end gender based violence.
Kent Schroeder, Executive Director at Bhutan Canada Foundation, presented on gender and governance in Bhutan and challenged the audience to think about ‘Disrupting the Disruption’. Bhutan is a country that has reached almost full gender parity in educational attainment.3 Yet Bhutan is ranked 131 out of 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020.4 In Bhutan, the gender gap is highest in political empowerment and health and survival.5 While Bhutan has ‘disruptive tools’ in place that are meant to challenge the gender gap, such as gender-based analysis, the gender gap in political empowerment is a reminder for practitioners to continuously review and reflect on how disruptive tools are working to support gender equality. This presentation was a reflection on BCF’s project with the Royal Institute of Management (RIM) to increase the capacity of new civil servants to provide gender responsive public services. Funded by the High Commission of Canada in India through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, this project will promote gender equality through the design of 4 courses delivered to new civil servants at RIM. Read more about this project here.
The event concluded with a talk by youth activist, Zanubia, who emphasized the value of localized activism to promote gender equality in communities in Canada. Following this all speakers were brought together for a panel discussion and then broke off into small groups for a lively discussion with the audience.
This event highlighted the different ways activists and practitioners are supporting gender equality in varying global contexts, while also encouraging Canadians to #GoForTheGoals. For more information on International Development Week, see Global Affairs Canada here.
1United Nations Development Programme. ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. 2020, United Nations Development Programme. https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html
2 ‘United Nations Development Programme. ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. 2020, United Nations Development Programme. https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html
3 World Economic Forum. 2019. Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Switzerland, World Economic Forum, p 95.
4 World Economic Forum. 2019. Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Switzerland, World Economic Forum, p 9.
5 World Economic Forum. 2019. Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Switzerland, World Economic Forum, p 95.