Introduction to GBA+

It’s time to bust some myths

Now that you know the difference between equality and equity and you have seen a glimpse of GBA+, let’s answer a few of the questions we often hear.

“Hasn’t gender equality been achieved in Canada?”

Myth: Women and men are already equal in Canada, so GBA+ is not needed.

While many advances have been made, significant equality gaps remain. Today, even women in Canada who work full-time earn on average only 87 cents to every dollar earned by men (Statistics Canada, 2017). Women are also more often the victims of domestic and sexual violence. They also continue to be under-represented in leadership and executive positions, occupying just 23% of board positions in Canada’s top 500 corporations (Canadian Board Diversity Council 2017 Report Card). The gap is even larger for women with particular intersecting identify factors, such as transwomen and women with a disability.

Gender equality benefits everyone in a society, and GBA+ can improve the situations of women, men and non-binary people. For example, in the same way that women were left out of heart disease research because it was seen as a “man’s disease,” men have historically been overlooked in osteoporosis research. While osteoporosis is often considered a disease of post-menopausal women, men actually account for nearly a third of osteoporosis-related hip fractures.

“Isn’t GBA+ all about women? What about men? What about culture, race and ethnicity?”

Myth: GBA+ only applies to women and women’s issues – it is advocacy for women.

GBA+ is not advocacy. It is an analytical tool designed to help us ask questions, challenge assumptions and identify potential impacts, taking into account the diversity of Canadians.

In addition to sex and gender, GBA+ considers all identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental and physical disability. Once an issue has undergone the GBA+ process, gender may emerge as the most important factor, while in other cases it might be any or a combination of factors that influence a person’s experience of a government policy, program or initiative.

Your department’s mandate could also impact your entry point for GBA+. You might begin with ethnicity, or with (dis)ability. Regardless of entry point, however, every human cell has a sex and every person is gendered, and sex and gender must not be neglected in your analysis.

“I work in an operational department. I don’t need to know about GBA+.”

Myth: GBA+ only applies to the “social” sectors.

All government policies and programs affect people. While gender and diversity issues may be more obvious in some areas, such as education and health, and less obvious in others, such as natural resources and defence, this does not necessarily mean that gender is not relevant. GBA+ can and has been used in all federal sectors and domains. For example, using GBA+ to assess large-scale procurement projects can help to ensure that equipment and products meet diverse needs. It can also help to ensure that strong hiring strategies are implemented within the public service to ensure workplace diversity.

Later in the course we will examine how it is applied across social, economic, public safety and scientific sectors.