Government of Canada's Approach
Sex vs. Gender
Definitions of sex and gender are often – incorrectly – used interchangeably. Both need to be understood and carefully considered if we are to determine the impact and effectiveness of government initiatives. You might think (assume!) that only one or the other is a factor, but sometimes it can turn out to be the opposite of what you thought. And, often, there is a combination of physical and socio-cultural factors at play.
Not all individuals identify with a binary concept of sex or gender categories of male and female, masculine and feminine. Important dialogue on gender identity is ongoing in Canada and around the world. Our understanding of sex and gender and how and when to use these designations continues to grow and shift.
What about the “plus”?
Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) isn’t only about gender, and groups of people are not homogenous. Our experiences are affected by intersecting parts of our identity, the context we are in and our lived realities.
We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are. This is called intersectionality. The “plus” highlights the fact that GBA has always gone beyond sex and gender. It examines how sex and gender intersect with other identities such as: race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental or physical disability.
[Text version of Fig. 1 – Intersectionality image: graphic illustrating some of the identity factors considered in GBA+]
This figure illustrates some of the factors which can intersect with sex and gender. Six oblong shapes of differing colors overlap and fan out. Each oblong has two identity factors written on it. The top oblong has “sex and gender” written in a larger font. Starting below sex and gender and going clockwise, the additional identities identified are: geography, culture, income, sexual orientation, education, ethnicity, ability, age, religion and language.
Use GBA+ to examine all the intersecting identity factors of diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people so that you can be more inclusive in your approach to developing, delivering and evaluating initiatives.
Without GBA+, we risk missing or misreading the experiences of a significant portion of the Canadian population and –as a consequence – risk developing policies and initiatives that can inadvertently increase inequalities. It is therefore critical that we apply GBA+ to optimize the impact and effectiveness of all federal initiatives.
To learn more about intersecting identity factors, watch this micro-learning video called Beyond sex and gender.
Did you know that GBA+ is recognized as a key competency in support of the development of effective programs and policies for Canadians?
The Government of Canada has been committed to using GBA+ in the development of policies, programs and legislation since 1995. It provides federal officials with the means to continually improve their work and attain better results for Canadians by being more responsive to specific needs and circumstances.
The Government recently renewed its commitment to GBA+ and is working to strengthen its implementation across all federal departments.
To learn more about the Government’s renewed commitment, including its response to the 2015 Report of the Auditor General of Canada “Implementing Gender-based Analysis”, view the:
GBA+ is everyone's responsibility
Status of Women Canada plays a leadership role in the government-wide implementation of GBA+; however, the commitment to GBA+ is a shared responsibility across all departments and agencies.
All federal officials should incorporate GBA+ into their work by asking some basic questions and challenging personal assumptions about diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people. Through the systematic use of GBA+, federal officials are able to improve their work, ensuring it is inclusive of diverse perspectives.
Status of Women Canada:
- Shares GBA+ knowledge
- Provides technical assistance to departments and agencies
- Develops GBA+ tools and training
- Exercise a challenge function
- Provide guidance on incorporating GBA+ where appropriate
Federal departments and agencies
- Conduct GBA+
- Integrate and sustain the practice of GBA+
- Monitor and report on GBA+ practice and outcomes
For more information on the roles and responsibilities for GBA+ in the federal government, see the GBA+ roles and responsibilities module of the Introduction to GBA+ online course.
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