Chapter 6: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture
As a settlement worker, you may be curious as to how the Canadian government’s gender lens impacts your field. The federal government applies Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) as both an analytical process and a methodology to assess how diverse groups of people experience policies, programs, and initiatives, and to act on the results (Women and Gender Equality Canada, 2022c, para. 2). Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal government department that offers programming to help newcomers settle in Canada, is required under the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to include a GBA+ assessment of its programs and impact (IRCC, 2021b). Although GBA+ can be seen in progress in a number of areas within the IRCC portfolio, major initiatives begun in 2020–2021 include plans to address gender-based violence, the needs of caregivers, labour integration for visible minority newcomer women, and supports for LGBTQ refugees arriving through private sponsorship (IRCC, 2022c).
IRCC is not the only department responsible for implementing GBA+. All federal departments and agencies are supported by the Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada to implement GBA+ towards the end goal of gender equality. , or the application of a gender lens to programs and policy, is not unique in government or intergovernmental operations (UN Women, 2022). Although Canada committed to gender-based analysis in 1995, it was not until 2016 that the “plus” sign (+) was introduced to highlight the inclusion of diverse identity factors in this type of analysis, including religion, ethnicity and race, language, sexual orientation, income, culture, geography, disability, age, religion, and education (Women and Gender Equality Canada, 2022b). The GBA+ approach has faced criticism for emphasizing gender and sex and “adding on” other identity factors rather than incorporating more rigorous analysis. Hankivsky & Mussel (2018) describe its lack in addressing disability in particular (p. 304). More research, analysis, and awareness are required to understand how identity factors work in tandem to impact newcomers’ settlement outcomes and their ability to participate fully, with dignity, in Canadian society.
A free online GBA+ course is available to the public to learn more about the approach. Some groups have innovated the GBA+ approach to share focus with a particular identity. For example, Women of the Métis Nation/Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak created a Métis-Specific GBA+ Tool to ensure that the realities facing Métis women are represented in public policy.
Various other community organizations have designed practical toolkits to guide individuals and organizations in applying GBA+ to their own work. Examples are listed below:
- Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women: Gender Equality and Intersectional Analysis Toolkit (Khosla, 2021)
- Canadian Council for Refugees: Pathways to Gender Justice Handbook: Applying a Gender Lens in Working with Newcomers
- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI):