On 18 May 2021, the Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice and the International Gender Champions held a panel discussion to share best practices both within government and international justice institutions on working towards gender equality.

The discussion was opened by H.E. Ms Lisa Helfand, Ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands, and moderated by Ms Melinda Reed, Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. Please find below some key takeaways from the panel discussion.

H.E. Ms Jacqueline O’Neill, Ambassador of Canada for Women, Peace and Security

  • In light of the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSC 1325), the Ambassador highIighted that while the required normative frameworks is present, what is needed at this juncture is more consistent and robust implementation.

  • Canada developed a National Action Plan for the implementation of the UNSC 1325, which guides the government with objectives, values statement and goals.

  • Ambassador O’Neill highlighted the importance to start with a baseline understanding about key concepts regarding gender, as it gives a common framework and a shared terminology. For example, all Canadian civil servants receive a basic training on terminology as part of their induction.

  • Moreover, all funding applications to the Canadian government require a gender-based analysis. 

  • Canada passed a bill to require federally appointed judges to take training, including about stereotypes, bias, to better understand gender and sexual violence, and to give reasons for ruling in SGBV cases.

Mr Abubacarr Tambadou, Registrar of the UN International Residual mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT)

  • Gender parity and mainstreaming can be accomplished especially through recruitment policies or progressive workplace policies.

  • In his role, the Registrar is assisted by Gender Focal Points in Arusha and The Hague and additional alternate focal points.

  • Since the launch of the UN-wide Strategy on Gender Parity by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, gender parity was reached for the first time in UN history in its senior management group.

  • The organisational culture of the UN still requires work, but advances are made.

  • The UNIRMCT has recently reached gender parity at almost all levels.

  • In job categories where inequality persists, the Registrar works with staff to enhance outreach.

Ms Odette Melono, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

  • Diversity at OPCW means gender parity and geographical representation.

  • Education and opportunities are key. Women represent only 35% in the field of chemical science. 

  • Recruitment strategies to inspire more women to apply include actively sourcing applicants on LinkedIn, making vacancies more inclusive, targeted outreach with states parties, using UN talent pools. However, these strategies are not enough. Culture needs to be reshaped across the organisation. 

  • In 2020, OPCW launched a gender and equality audit. Measures undertaken through the audit include: a new post of diversity officer to address the gaps identified in the audit, updates to the staff code of conduct, more choice for parental leave policy etc.  

Ms Antônia Pereira de Sousa, Focal Point for Gender Equality at the International Criminal Court

  • Ms Pereira de Sousa was appointed as Focal Point for Gender Equality on International Women’s Day 2021, and she highlighted that although the ICC was rather late compared to other institutions in appointing a gender focal point, its advantage is that the position is full time.

  • Gender equality features as one of the key priorities of the ICC leadership, recently expressed in a High-Level Statement on Gender Equality, and it is part of Strategic Plans across the Court.

  • An internal gender awareness working group has been created to advance efforts on gender mainstreaming.

  • There have also been staff led initiatives, looking at inclusion and how to tackle various types of discrimination.

  • The Court has revived training efforts on gender and harassment and is working to update administrative instructions on the matter.

  • The Independent Expert Review process, currently ongoing at the ICC, is key in the conversation about gender mainstreaming.

  • For the new ICC strategic plan cycle of 2022-2024, Ms Pereira de Sousa plans to work towards inclusion of concrete deliverables and a stand-alone gender strategic plan.