Section I: Organizational Overview

Organizational Profile

Appropriate Minister:
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Institutional Head:
Meena Ballantyne
Ministerial Portfolio:
Canadian Heritage
Enabling Instrument:
Order in Council (1976-779)
Year of Incorporation / Commencement:

Organizational Context

Raison d’être

The Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women, known as Status of Women Canada (SWC), is a federal government agency that promotes equality between women and men in all aspects of Canadian life. The mandate of SWC is “to coordinate policy with respect to the status of women and administer related programs” (1976).

SWC is responsible for exercising leadership and working in partnership to promote and advance equality by: supporting action that will lead to equality by helping to create conditions for success for women and girls in Canada; providing expert advice on gender equality and Gender-based Analysis Plus in the development of effective programs, policies and legislation for all Canadians; promoting commemorative dates related to women and girls in Canada; and supporting Canada’s efforts to meet international obligations.

SWC works to promote and advance equality for women and girls, focusing its efforts in three areas: improving women’s and girls’ economic security and prosperity; ending violence against women and girls; and supporting the advancement and increased representation of women and girls in leadership and decision-making roles. While SWC focuses on these three areas, the agency is able to address specific issues, such as gender based violence, the economic security and prosperity of women in rural and remote communities, and women’s full participation in Canada’s democratic and public life.


SWC is the primary federal agency responsible for supporting the Government’s obligations and commitments to achieve equality for all Canadian women and girls. Gender equality issues permeate every aspect of society whether in economic, political, social, scientific or cultural domains, and as such, gender equality is a nation-building tool.

Other departments and jurisdictions (Provincial, Territorial) have responsibility for delivering programs and services directly to women and girls. The agency focuses its efforts on building awareness, knowledge and capacity in order to bring about institutional and systemic changes aligned with Government of Canada responsibilities and priorities. To accomplish this, the agency collaborates and builds synergies with a wide range of organizations, key stakeholders, levels of government as well as the private and voluntary sectors.

As the Government of Canada’s centre of expertise on gender equality issues, SWC is a knowledge broker and facilitator; the agency offers input, advice and strategic support to other Government departments and agencies, conducts policy analysis, and makes strategic interventions at both the domestic and international levels.

One of SWC’s key responsibilities is to help build capacity and responsive tools to foster the full integration of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) across Government. GBA+ takes into account gender and other identity factors (such as age, education, language, geography, culture and income) to assess the potential impacts of initiatives on diverse groups of women and men. Integrating a robust GBA+ in the development, delivery and assessment of legislation, policies, programs, services and other initiatives is crucial to ensure that they work to advance gender equality. With active support from the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Privy Council Office (PCO), SWC also monitors and assesses compliance with the Government’s commitment to fully incorporate GBA+ into decision-making processes.

Through the Women’s Program, SWC provides financial support to projects that work to foster the type of system-level changes that advance equality between women and men, and have a clear potential for making a difference in the lives of women and girls in Canada.

To raise awareness of gender equality issues in Canada, past achievements, as well as remaining work to do, SWC promotes commemorative dates such as: International Women’s Day (March 8), Women’s History Month (October), the International Day of the Girl (October 11), Persons Day (October 18) and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (December 6).

SWC’s regional offices are located in Montréal (serving Quebec), Moncton (serving New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador), and Edmonton (serving Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Yukon). The National office, also serving Nunavut, and the Ontario regional office are located at SWC headquarters in the National Capital Region. To address gaps, SWC began the process of opening offices in Toronto and Vancouver, which will be operational in 2016-17.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

1. Strategic Outcome: Equality between women and men is promoted and advanced in Canada

1.1 Program: Leadership, Expertise and Advice

1.2 Program: Advancing Equality for Women

Internal Services

Operating Environment and Risk Analysis

While Canada has made progress toward gender equality, its performance is also marked by a slow pace, persistent gaps and disparity among women of diverse backgrounds.

Persistent inequalities

  • Women are 11 times more likely than men to be victims of sexual offences and account for nearly 80% of all police-reported intimate partner violence. Indigenous women are significantly more likely to be victims of violent crimes than non-Indigenous women.
  • Wage gap continues – women earn about 80% of men’s full-time, full year wages
  • Women represent 19.5% of FP500 Board members (40% of these companies have no women on their board) and 34% of GIC appointments.

Addressing these complex and persistent gender inequalities requires the active and sustained engagement of all – citizens, communities, different levels of government and key stakeholders – and cannot be achieved by SWC alone. This represents a potential risk for the Agency’s capacity to achieve its planned outcomes. To mitigate this risk, the Agency engages key players, facilitates collaboration and leverages strategic partnerships with other federal departments, levels of government, and civil society organizations working on gender equality.

Given the current government’s renewed commitment towards gender equality, there is a growing demand for SWC’s programming, policy intervention, and communication activities, which could far exceed the capacities of such a small agency with limited resources. This may lead to a perception that the Agency is not responsive to needs and expectations. This is why we focus our efforts on key priority areas where the need is greatest and where there is a clear federal role.

In 2015-16, the Government of Canada has undertaken major initiatives that will have a direct impact on gender equality, such as the development of a Federal Strategy against Gender-based Violence, a commitment to equality in Governor-in-Council appointments, the implementation of the Canada Childcare Benefit, as well as social infrastructure investments in shelters and transition housing for women victims of violence. These initiatives present opportunities that the Agency is seizing on, working closely with other departments and agencies, to monitor progress and assess their impacts on women and girls across the country.

Key Risks
Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to the Organization’s Programs
SWC’s outcomes are interdependent on the actions of other stakeholders

SWC’s Messaging: To build an informed society where citizens and institutions are aware that achieving gender equality is a shared responsibility.

Action and Engagement: Engaging stakeholders through initiatives that facilitate collaboration, networking, and partnerships to achieve concrete results.

Knowledge Sharing: Strategies that complement and leverage collaborative efforts, based on the recognition that achieving gender equality rests on everyone using the best available evidence.

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Given its broad mandate and the range of demands for its program and policy interventions, SWC may be perceived as not meeting/ responding to stakeholder expectations

Area of Focus: SWC focuses its work on issues that address enduring equality gaps and are aligned with Government priorities: ending violence against women and girls, improving women’s economic security and prosperity and supporting the advancement and increased representation of women and girls in leadership and decision-making roles.

Outreach Strategy: Communicate the agency’s strategic direction, areas of focus, current priorities, and program guidelines.

Decision-Making Processes: Maximize the efficiency of its programming, policy, and communication levers in order to manage the range of demands for its services and interventions.

Strategic Investment/Intervention: Build synergies and leverage partnerships so as to maximize the impact of its interventions.

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Organizational Priorities

Name of Priority: Addressing violence against women and girls


Despite significant declines in crime rates over the past 30 years in Canada, the rate of gender-based violence remains unacceptably high. Gender-based violence takes many forms and is carried out in a range of contexts, in the public and private spheres. Up to two-thirds of Canadian women report having experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse in their lives. Rates of sexual assaults have in fact increased, albeit slightly, over the past few years, and reports of sexual violence on campus as well as through electronic means have increased. Indigenous women (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) are significantly more likely to be victims of violence relative to non-Indigenous women. Women with a disability also experience violence at a much higher rate than women without a disability, as do younger women aged 15-24 (relative to all other age groups).

Violence against women and girls weakens the fabric of our society and takes a heavy toll on individuals, families and communities. The health costs of injuries and chronic health problems caused by such abuse are in the billions. So too are the costs to the justice system, to employers and businesses, and to social and community services. Long-term impacts of violence on women's physical and psychological health can result in their inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities, and limited ability to care for themselves and their children. Children may suffer long-term emotional, behavioural and developmental problems that can even lead them to be violent later in life.

As a highly developed and peaceful society, Canada needs to do much better at addressing gender-based violence. The Government of Canada is committed to taking concrete action to prevent and address gender-based violence, including the disproportionate rate and severe impact of this problem on Indigenous women and girls.

Priority TypeFootnote1: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization’s Programs
Initiatives to address violence against women and girls 2015-2016 Ongoing In progress

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority
  • A Knowledge Exchange Event on Sexual Violence held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, brought together 150 participants, including leading minds from across the country to raise awareness and enhance understanding of sexual violence in the Canadian context. The event, hosted by SWC and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Forum of Status of Women Ministers was webcast across the country.
  • To inform the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, SWC played a key supporting role in the pre-inquiry engagement process that engaged survivors, family members and loved ones as well as front-line service providers. The Minister of Status of Women joined the Ministers of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and of Justice Canada, travelling across the country to hold these consultations. More than 2,000 people took part in 17 meetings. National Indigenous leaders, provincial and territorial officials, as well as scholars and legal experts were consulted. As part of this engagement process, the 2nd National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, held in Winnipeg, served as a vital forum for all levels of government to collaborate on this issue, leading to an agreement by all players to participate fully in the national inquiry
  • In 2015-16, SWC supported a total of 56 new projects specifically designed to address diverse issues related to violence against women and girls. A number of projects were completed that aimed to reduce violence on post-secondary campuses across the country. This work, accomplished over a three-year period, not only helped bring visibility to the issue, but provided the opportunity to address safety issues and risks, particularly to young women on campuses.

Name of Priority: Increasing representation of women in leadership and decision-making roles


Canadian women have high levels of education, training, leadership skills, and business experience. Their talents and capabilities represent a competitive advantage for the Canadian economy. Yet there is evidence that this has not translated into leadership and economic advances. Persistent gender gaps remain in key areas: while women now represent just under half of the Canadian workforce, they hold just over one quarter of senior management positions and fewer than one sixth of total board seats at Financial Post 500 companies, and represent less than 30% of elected officials in federal, provincial and municipal assemblies. Building on the strong message delivered through appointing the first-ever gender equal federal Cabinet, SWC worked to foster conditions that support the achievement of gender parity in public, private and voluntary sector leadership.

Priority Type: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization’s Programs
Initiatives to increase representation of women in leadership and decision-making roles 2015-2016 Ongoing In progress

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority
  • Throughout 2015-16, SWC engaged with federal departments, non-profit organizations and community partners to advance discussions on the importance of increased representation of women in senior leadership roles. In particular, the agency worked with the Privy Council Office (PCO) to develop plans that support gender parity in Governor-in-Council (GIC) appointments.
  • In 2015-16, through the Women’s Program, a Call for Proposals was launched soliciting applications for projects aiming to increase women’s participation in the democratic and public life of Canada by creating inclusive public spaces. The Call also included a companion stream in recognition of and to address the specific needs of Indigenous women.

Name of Priority: Strengthening implementation of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+)


The Government of Canada recognizes that in order to achieve gender equality, its own policies, programs and services must be responsive to the diverse and differential needs of women and men. This in turn requires the application of GBA+ at all stages of decision-making processes. Responding to a key mandate commitment, SWC redoubled its efforts to promote the application of GBA+ across the federal government.

Priority Type: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization’s Programs
Initiatives to strengthen implementation of GBA+ 2015-2016 Ongoing In progress

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority
  • In response to the Fall 2015 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, SWC, in collaboration with PCO and TBS, tabled the Action Plan on Gender-based Analysis (2016-2020) (
  • In 2015-16, a total of 5,437 participants, including 4,800 federal officials completed the SWC online course, Introduction to Gender-based Analysis Plus, an increase of 500% over the previous year. As well, SWC provided support to over 30 federal departments and helped to build GBA+ capacity in two key sectors: security and defence, and science and the economy. The Public Safety and Security GBA+ network provided a forum for collaboration and sharing of best practices among departments with security and defence mandates. One of SWC’s key initiatives in this domain was the organization, in collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency, of an event entitled, “Cracking the code: Gender and diversity in security operations.”
  • SWC worked with PCO to ensure that all proposals presented for Cabinet decision include a robust GBA+.
  • In addition, a number of GBA+ learning events were organized to raise awareness and build capacity across the federal public sector. These included: the 4th annual GBA+ Awareness Week in which 25 departments/agencies participated; the 4th GBA+ Bootcamp workshop designed to build skills in the provision of GBA+ advice attended by 47 participants from 24 departments/agencies; and an advanced GBA+ training program for 70 federal officials organized in collaboration with the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, other science, economic and research agencies and the Centre for Intercultural Learning at Global Affairs Canada.

Name of Priority: Promoting economic opportunities for women


Persistent gender inequalities are among the key factors negatively affecting Canada’s economic prosperity and growth. These include the continued under-representation of women in key sectors of the economy such as skilled trades, technology, science and technical professions, and in entrepreneurship; the enduring wage gap with women earning about 80% of men’s full-time full-year wages; and the lack of supports to ensure women’s full participation in the workforce. As part of the Government’s commitment to develop an inclusive economy for all, SWC undertook initiatives designed to address these issues.

Priority Type: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization’s Programs
Initiatives to increase economic opportunities for women 2015-2016 Ongoing In Progress

Program 1.1

Program 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority
  • SWC continued to promote women’s economic opportunities through key partnerships with private and community organizations to explore ways to support women entrepreneurs. Most notably, the agency led Canada’s first ever women’s trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil to participate in the 25th Global Summit of Women, which focuses on women’s advancement in the global economy. SWC also led, with Global Affairs Canada, a trade mission to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) conference in Austin, Texas.
  • A cluster of projects that worked to address women’s economic security and prosperity in rural and remote communities in Canada came to completion in the reporting year. These projects allowed rural and remote communities across Canada to address the specific economic and systemic challenges faced by women in the labour market.

For more information on organizational priorities, see the Minister’s mandate letterEndnote i.

Date modified: