Ottawa commits money to bring men into fight for gender equality

The federal government announced more than $550,000 in funding on Friday to encourage men and boys to participate in the work for gender equality.

'The movement to engage boys and men is fundamental to creating change,' says masculinity studies prof

Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef speaks alongside other panellists while addressing funding to support men and boys in Calgary on Friday. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

The federal government has announced more than $560,000 in funding to encourage men and boys to advocate for gender equality — efforts like sports figures speaking out against domestic violence, or male colleagues speaking out against sexism in the workplace.

Minister of Gender Equality Maryam Monsef made the announcement in Calgary on Friday, where she also released a report based on roundtable discussions across the country that's intended to inform the development of a gender equality strategy and bring men and boys into that conversation.

Four projects will receive funding:

  • Alberta Council of Women's Shelters will receive $212,000 to promote sports figures as role models to increase awareness of gender-based violence. That organization will work with the Canadian Football League leading up to the Grey Cup.
  • Catalyst Canada, a non-profit that helps support women in the workplace, will receive $100,000 to promote workplace inclusion and support men as disruptors of workplace sexism.
  • FOXY, a non-profit that focuses on sexual health and empowered decision making, will receive $125,000 to engage young Indigenous men and boys on gender equality in the Northwest Territories.
  • Next Gen Men with the University of Calgary will receive $125,000 to build networks for pro-feminist male leaders to engage on gender equality issues.

Michael Kehler, a professor in the field of masculinity studies at the University of Calgary, says gender equality needs to be an ongoing initiative that involves everyone.

'Not just a women's issue'

"Gender equality is increasingly understood as not just a women's issue. This is an issue that affects us all. And the movement to engage boys and men is fundamental to creating change," he said. 

"Boys and men can become advocates for change. And this kind of funding acknowledges the willingness of boys and men to become those agents, to disrupt misogyny, to challenge sexism and to speak against homophobia."

Kehler said he hopes this will be a strong first step in the strategic plan the government has promised to roll out across the country.

The federal government committed $1.8 million over two years in 2018 to engage men and boys in addressing inequality.

The roundtable report found that persistent beliefs need to be addressed and challenged through sustained efforts through different networks to make that happen.

It states that one participant in the roundtables realized some men had an "ah-ha moment when men realized they are gendered and that gender inequality has impacts on themselves as well."

With files from Vincent Bonnay