The 2022 federal budget was announced on April 7th and was keenly scrutinized for its gender-based analysis in all domains, financial commitments towards Indigenous reconciliation, and the continued COVID-response. With the increased labour of the care work force and the rise in domestic gender-based violence being two of the greatest gendered impacts during the pandemic, the highlights of the federal budget are its commitment of $625 million over four years towards building a Child Care Infrastructure Fund and $539.3 million over five years to implement the forthcoming National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.
Many aspects of the budget also focused on Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit individuals, and the government continues to craft its response to improve gendered health care, take action on the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions. Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the National Association of Friendship Centres, and the National Family and Survivors Circle share their responses to the budget and expose some of the gaps and inadequacies in the government’s commitment, including the absence of any measures addressing the Calls for Justice in the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
On the international front, last month Amnesty collected 6,900 signatures and took part in a global petition handover urging Canada and governments of the world to speak up for Afghan women and girls. Since then, the situation in Afghanistan has regressed even more. Heartbreaking images and recordings of girls being turned away at the very gates of their schools were circulated all over the world when the Taliban failed to deliver on their promise to reopen schools on March 23rd. 4 million girls in grade six and above have now missed one full year of education. With 4 million girls not getting an education, they then become 4 million women who may not end up not working (or likely only in precarious forms of employment), who may also be facing violence in their homes, and who won’t be socially and culturally engaged. Fundamental to our understanding of the situation must be that Taliban leaders have created regressive conditions for an entire generation of girls in a country whose former generations of women had, for over 100 years, enjoyed the equal right to education, right to work, and right to political participation. That is the context in which we’re now seeing women being removed from all social, economic, and political spaces, and the dissolution of the Afghan Human Rights Commission and the Women Affairs Ministry resulting in emboldening threats and acts of violence against women. The situation remains immensely critical.
Canada recently announced an additional $50 million for life-saving humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, such as emergency health care and food and nutrition. Absent from this announcement was any mention of direct support for women or girls, particularly for the economic impact for single women heads of households who have now been without an income for 8 months, or protections for women as rates of violence increase. Unless funding is explicitly stated and allocated to women and girls, we must remain vigilant in calling on Canada to uphold women and girl’s rights as a non-negotiable issue in our international response.
Deepen Your Activism to Support Women and Girls in Afghanistan
- Support the Canadian Campaign for Afghan Peace and write to your MP to act on expediting Afghan resettlement and to lead the international advocacy of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan and guarantee their security and protection.
- Write to Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development to urgently act on providing greater transparency and accountability on how Canada’s humanitarian aid will directly benefit women and girls and to call for any diplomatic engagement with Afghanistan’s de facto leaders be conditional upon the restoration of rights and freedoms for women including re-opening schools for girls.
- Resources to Educate Yourself on the Political Crisis
- Watch the excellent panel ‘Prospects for Women and Girls in Afghanistan’ featuring important voices including Fawzia Koofi, Former Chairperson of Women, Civil Society and Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan Parliament; Former member of Afghan Peace Negotiation in Doha; and Fatima Gailani, Former President of the Afghanistan Red Crescent Society; Former Member of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Negotiation Team
- Watch Amnesty’s webinar on The Needs of Afghan Women for Defending Their Rights which covers issues like the impact of the school ban for girls, censorship and media, journalism, and freedom of expression, and femicide. This webinar features important speakers such as Samira Hamidi, the Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International South Asia Regional Office, Najiba Ayubi, Afghan journalist and activist, Masiha Fayez, Lawyer, Activist, and consultant with Afghanistan Research & Evaluation Unit (AREU); Najla Raheel, Activist, Lawyer & VP of Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA); and Zarqa Yaftli, Executive Director of Women and Children Legal Research Foundation (WCLRF)
- Read They Are the Revolution Campaign; Amnesty conducted interviews with 16 Afghan women from different fields, highlighting the severe economic, social, political, and cultural damage after the Taliban offensive.
- Read Amnesty’s crisis report The Fate of Thousands Hanging in the Balance, outlining the threat to gender equality, the state of human rights defenders, the barriers to freedom of expression, and the obstacles in fleeing the country.
Deepen Your Activism to Help End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People
- Read the full responses to the federal budget from the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the National Association of Friendship Centres, and the National Family and Survivors Circle
- Review our guidance on becoming a strong ally (p. 15) in the No More Stolen Sisters Campaign Guide
- Attend the Women’s Gender-Diverse, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People’s dialogue sessions (ASL Interpretation available for each of these events)
- April 26: Stories Connect Us (this session is held only for First Nations women, gender-diverse, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people)
- April 27: Everyone Has a Sacred Role (this session is held only for First Nations leadership and community members of all agenda, including men, boys, and non- 2SLGBTQQIA+ relatives)
- June 23: Listen and Take Action (this session is open to everyone, including government and non-First Nations organizations)
- Attend Dancing to Remember, acurated evening of performances and presentations to raise awareness of MMIWG2S and mark the 10th anniversary of Butterflies in Spirit (April 30, 2022)
- Please check back for more updates and actions. As protocols over the pandemic continue to be monitored and planning for in-person gatherings are underway, this page will be updated with more programming for 2022. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter where we regularly post information on the rights of women and girls.