Funding to Advance Gender Equality in Canada

Funding to Advance Gender Equality in Canada

Status of Women Canada has opened a new call for proposals for projects to advance gender equality across Canada.

Through this call for proposals, organizations will receive funding to identify women leaders in various sectors, organizations, and communities, and engage them in local projects to advance gender equality. The call aims to identify and engage a total of 150 women leaders from across the country, to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 as we move forward.

In addition to working on local projects, these women leaders and their sponsor organizations will take part in a pan-Canadian network of key women leaders, which will support collaborative action to advance gender equality in Canada. This is a unique opportunity for women leaders and organizations to join forces and work for gender equality at the local and the national levels simultaneously.

The Government of Canada is committed to furthering its partnership with civil society and recognizes the important role of advocacy in furthering our shared goals. This call for proposals will bring women leaders and equality-seeking organizations together and support them in collaborating to advance gender equality.

“Women’s movements have driven global and national action on gender equality. In countries and localities, advocates often have the greatest understanding of the deficiencies that women and girls face, and essential knowledge of how to advance their rights...”

United Nations

Call Description

With this call for proposals, local organizations across the country will implement local projects designed to address local needs, while also contributing to the overall goal of building a strong and independent women’s movement in Canada.

Organizations will identify two to three women leaders (in various sectors, organizations, and communities) and meaningfully engage them in local projects. In addition, organizations will support opportunities for collaboration among the women leaders who have been identified across the country (150 in total) and their involvement in the development of a pan-Canadian network.

The call aims to mobilize women leaders and equality-seeking organizations to join forces to advance equality for women in Canada. It will do this in two ways:

  1. Through projects implemented locally by funded organizations across Canada that address a local need aligned with the priorities of the Women’s Program; and
  2. By developing relationships and networks between 150 key women leaders, the women’s organizations with which they are affiliated, and other stakeholders across Canada, the call will capitalize on current efforts to mobilize for gender equality, as well as past achievements (equality-seeking, intergenerational, intersectional, inter-sectoral, etc.) to increase the effectiveness of actions to advance equality for women.

Is Your Organization the Right Fit?

*To be eligible, organizations must be working consistently on gender equality issues within the areas of focus of the Women’s Program — increasing women’s economic security and prosperity, encouraging women’s leadership and democratic participation and ending violence against women and girls. Individuals are not eligible for funding.

Proposed local projects must reflect your organization’s areas of expertise in gender equality issues. Applicants will be assessed on organizational capacity, experience, expertise, and ability to work in partnership.

Only organizations working at the local/regional level are eligible for funding under this call for proposals.

Potential applicants should read the document Is the Women’s Program the right match for me? and the Eligibility Requirements for additional criteria.

What Your Project Must Do

Over the course of three years, proposed local projects must address relevant local gender equality issues within the areas of focus of the Women’s Program*. Projects must include – and will be assessed on – the following points:

  • Transforming the context (e.g. institutions and systems) and addressing systemic barriers that contribute to gender inequality in Canada; and
  • Developing and maintaining active and effective partnerships.

Performance reporting and specific timelines will be determined after the initial application has been approved. Depending on the nature of the proposed projects, additional requirements may apply (such as participation in a community of practice or in a multi-project evaluation).

*Please consult Women’s Program staff to determine if a proposed project corresponds with the focus of the Women’s Program and the call for proposals.

Note: Projects proposing the following types of activities will not be considered under this call for proposals:

  • Delivering training (leadership, mentorship, occupational or otherwise) to women, activities to develop women leaders, or the testing of leadership models.
  • Supporting existing and/or ongoing activities or programs, or providing direct services.

About the Women Leaders

In parallel to the implementation of local gender equality projects, applicant organizations will identify two to three key women leaders, meaningfully engage them in local projects, and support their involvement in the development of a pan-Canadian network of 150 key women leaders.

Organizations must include, demonstrate, and will be assessed on:

  • The identification and description of two to three proposed *active, dynamic, women leaders addressing equality for women in various contexts. Organizations must provide a biography and a rationale explaining why each leader was chosen.
  • Organizations must also provide a signed participation agreement letter from all proposed leaders. In addition to participating in the implementation of the local project in which they are engaged, confirmed women leaders will be expected to participate in approximately five, three-day gatherings in locations across Canada over the course of three years.

*Active, dynamic, women leaders, advocates, or change agents (recognized or emerging) in various domains (within sectors, organizations, or communities). Emerging leaders are existing, action-oriented champions, working in a formal or informal capacity, who do not necessarily identify themselves as leaders. The call does not aim to develop new leaders.

Only one of the two or three identified leaders can be employed by the applicant organization under this call for proposals.

Funding Available

Up to $400,000

Over the course of proposed 36-month projects, organizations must include budget estimates for up to five potential gatherings involving travel (up to three business days each) for each of the two to three identified women leaders. Should none of the identified leaders be employed by the applicant, additional travel for one representative from the applicant organization should be included in the estimates for two of these potential gatherings. Gatherings will take place in five locations within Canada (one in western Canada, three in central Canada, and one in eastern Canada).

If identified leaders are not being compensated by their organizations to participate in the planned gatherings and the implementation of local projects, applicant organizations may budget honoraria accordingly.


36 months

Key Activities and Timelines (for funded organizations and women leaders – subject to change and details to follow)

Ongoing call coordination and support will be provided throughout the life of funded projects.

Month 1

Starting in Month 1, funded organizations have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the national discussion to contribute to the independent women’s movement in Canada.

Where appropriate, local projects addressing similar issues across Canada may be connected as a community of practice. This will allow organizations to consider refinements to their local projects, if deemed beneficial, to ensure strong alignment with the call priorities. This will also allow organizations to include any new promising opportunities emerging from the network of 150 women leaders across Canada.

Month 2 (approximate)

In support of the overall goal of building a strong and independent women’s movement in Canada, identified leaders and representatives from funded women’s organizations will attend a gathering where they will help develop a collective work plan, including a community of practice, an evaluation framework, a needs assessment, etc.

Month 6

Final deadline for local projects to begin.

Month 8 (approximate)

150 leaders gather in-person to collectively identify and prioritize systemic issues affecting women. This will include discussion of key issue intersections (e.g. women’s economic insecurity is both a cause and outcome of violence against women). It will also include identifying promising opportunities going forward in local projects and as a collective.

Month 17 (approximate)

150 dynamic women leaders gather to identify collaboration opportunities. Participants will engage and mobilize around the causes they champion and join forces (sector-specific efforts or inter-sectorally, intersectional, intergenerational) to advance equality for women.

Month 25 (approximate)

150 dynamic women leaders gather to identify collective action opportunities. In concert with the larger collective and a range of relevant stakeholders and partners, identified leaders will take action to implement systemic solutions to address issues at the national level.

Month 34

Local projects completed.

Month 35

In support of the overall goal of building a strong and independent women’s movement in Canada, identified leaders and representatives from funded women’s organizations gather in-person to take stock of local and pan-Canadian accomplishments, lessons-learned, and next steps.

Month 36

Call wrap-up.

Planned Call Results

  • Increased visibility for 150 dynamic women leaders and greater recognition for the causes they champion and their initiatives to advance equality for women.
  • Action-oriented, local projects implemented across the country in support of gender equality.
  • A national strategic and action-oriented plan developed to unite and strengthen the women’s movement in Canada, with key priority components implemented.
  • Collaborative, effective action by women leaders and women’s organizations to advance women’s equality issues.
  • Enhanced sustainability and more effective actions to advance equality for women.
  • A strong, effective, united, and vibrant women’s movement in Canada.


The following deliverables will be required for local projects (post approval):

  • Planning tools
  • Progress reports
  • Final Reports
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