Corporate information

Raison d’être

The Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women, known as Status of Women Canada (SWC), is the primary federal agency responsible for mobilizing partners and promoting equality between women and men by increasing women’s access to, and opportunities in, political and public life. Its mandate is "to coordinate policy with respect to the status of women and administer related programs" (1976).

Mandate and role: who we are and what we do

The Office of the Coordinator, Status of Women, was initially established in the Privy Council Office in response to a recommendation contained in the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1970, which identified the need for a federal representative for women. Status of Women Canada was established as a departmental agency of the federal government in 1976 by Order-in-Council to “coordinate policy with respect to the Status of Women and administer related programs” (1976-779).

Led by a full-time Minister since 2015 and a full Deputy Minister since 2017, SWC mobilizes partners and promotes equality between women and men by proactively engaging with individuals and institutions and with international, local and national partners. SWC works to advance equality for women by focusing its efforts in three areas: increasing women's economic security and prosperity; encouraging women's leadership and democratic participation; and ending violence against women and girls.

SWC works within the context of a number of federal and international instruments that support the principle of gender equality such as: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

SWC’s responsibilities include the following:

SWC’s activities support four whole-of-government priorities:

Operating context and key risks

Operating context

While Canada continues to make progress on gender equality, women continue to face challenges in achieving full equality in Canada. Women are under-represented in politics and leadership roles, earn less – on average – than men, and continue to experience high rates of gender-based violence. Certain groups of women are more likely to be affected by these challenges, including Indigenous women and girls, immigrant women, rural women, and disabled women.

Over the past year, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and the Women’s Marches around the world have drawn attention to the challenges women face, revitalized calls for concrete actions, and raised expectations among Canadians. This momentum presents a unique opportunity to expand engagement and awareness efforts to a broader audience, and strengthen demands for increased inclusiveness.

The Government of Canada prioritizes gender equality and SWC plays a central role in Canada’s efforts to make progress on this priority. Yet addressing persistent gender inequalities cannot be achieved by SWC alone and requires the active and sustained engagement of all – citizens, communities, different levels of government, the private sector and key stakeholders. With limited levers, SWC focuses on facilitating broader social change and relies on its ability to coordinate efforts to get partners and stakeholders working in the same direction. Through targeted, coordinated, collective action, significant progress can be made.

As an expert enabler and knowledge-broker, SWC requires robust and relevant information to build awareness and influence stakeholders. However, there are still important data gaps that limit our understanding of existing gender inequalities, particularly how they impact vulnerable groups. SWC is funding and sharing important research to fill knowledge gaps on issues relevant to gender equality. This helps support policymakers and service providers at all levels use evidence to inform their decisions and practices.

Finally, SWC’s internal environment is characterized by rapid growth as it continues to establish the corporate structure necessary to deliver on Government priorities and support a full Minister. To effectively manage the changes resulting from this growth, SWC will need to focus on building and strengthening its organizational structure and internal processes. Planning will become integral to identifying and delivering on key priorities.

Key risks

In 2017–18, SWC updated its Corporate Risk Profile (CRP) as part of its approach to strengthening its management practices. The CRP is a tool intended to support a continuous, proactive and systematic process to understand, manage and communicate risk from an organization-wide perspective. The CRP will be reviewed annually to assess the Agency’s risk exposure prior to establishing annual plans. At the same time, it will be used to reinforce senior management accountability for risk management and to support development of risk management capacity throughout the organization.

Through interviews, workshops and management discussions, SWC identified two key risks that may have an impact on SWC’s plans and priorities for 2018–19. The following table describes these risks and presents the risk response strategies the Agency has put in place to mitigate them.

Key risks

Risk 1: Pace of change

Advancing gender equality has become a key priority for the Government of Canada. Greater attention and increased expectations have resulted in an increase in the volume, depth and breadth of SWC's work. While the Agency continues to build capacity and strengthen its structure, there is a risk that SWC may not be able to keep pace with growing expectations, which could limit its ability to deliver on commitments.

Risk response strategy Link to the department’s Core Responsibility Link to departmental priorities
  • Strengthen strategic planning and priority-setting across all business units to ensure resources are aligned with high level priorities.
  • Implement SWC’s human resources plan, including recruitment strategies and onboarding considerations.
  • Continue to build SWC’s Ministerial Services Unit and formalize administrative processes.
  • Undertake an analysis of structural measures to better define and support SWC's evolving role.
  • Mobilizing partners and promoting equality for women and girls
Gender-based violence

Economic security and prosperity

Women in leadership roles
Risk 2: Influence

To achieve its objectives, SWC depends on its ability to influence federal organizations, provincial/territorial governments, as well as private and civil society organizations that have the levers to advance equality for women through policy, programs and organizational practices. Given this reliance on partners and stakeholders, there is a risk that SWC may not be able to influence change in line with its mandate.

Risk response strategy Link to the department’s Core Responsibility Link to departmental priorities
  • Strengthen engagement and collaborative relationships through the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Forum of Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women.
  • Ensure coordinated federal actions and systematic engagement with provincial/territorial and external stakeholders in leading the implementation of Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.
  • Implement, monitor and refine the whole-of-government framework of gender equality indicators.
  • Invest in research to fill knowledge gaps on issues relevant to gender equality and disseminate knowledge broadly.
  • In collaboration with central agencies, support the integration of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) across the federal government and continue to build GBA+ capacity to enable other departments and agencies to consider gender equality in their policies and programs.
  • Host a national roundtable on GBA+ to strengthen awareness of GBA+, promote its use by other levels of government, involve civil society, and identify and discuss opportunities for improvement.
  • Mobilizing partners and promoting equality for women and girls
Gender-based violence

Economic security and prosperity

Women in leadership roles
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