What is GBA+?
Have you or someone you know taken parental leave, been treated for heart disease, immigrated to Canada or used a Primary Inspection Kiosk upon returning to Canada at one of our major airports? These are examples of areas where the Government of Canada has used Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to explore the changing realities and inequalities of diverse groups of people.
What is GBA+?
GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are; GBA+ also considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.
GBA+ and gender equality
In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using GBA+ to advance gender equality in Canada, as part of the ratification of the United Nations’ Beijing Platform for Action.
Gender equality is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada. Gender equality means that diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people are able to participate fully in all spheres of Canadian life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society.
The Government recently renewed its commitment to GBA+ and is working to strengthen its implementation across all federal departments.
To learn more about the Government’s renewed commitment, including its response to the 2015 Report of the Auditor General of Canada “Implementing Gender-based Analysis”, view the:
Achieving gender equality depends on closing key gaps between diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people.
For more information about the history of GBA+ in Canada, see The history of GBA+ module of the Introduction to GBA+ online course.
1. 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.
2. Myth: GBA+ only applies to women’s issues – it is advocacy for women.
GBA+ is not advocacy. It is an analytical process 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.
3. 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.
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