Feds reshape funding supports for women's rights groups
New $300M program announced as prime minister faces criticism of his self-proclaimed feminist agenda
The Liberal government is changing the way it finances women's rights projects.
On Sunday, Gender Equality and International Development Minister Maryam Monsef announced her government's $300 million contribution to kickstart a new platform that she said will provide help to women's organizations in Canada and internationally.
Equality Fund partners — a patchwork of investors from different sectors — will work with the government to create this program.
The partners will decide how and when to direct money to different projects. Over the next 15 years, Monsef said the fund is projected to mobilize $1 billion to various causes. It has already raised $100 million.
This announcement, if it reaches its potential, will make Canada the top women's rights investor in the world, she said.
"This is Canada's legacy for gender equality," Monsef proclaimed.
"A fund by women, for women."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals have been pushing a gender focus in their international development work, and have used international summits to ask for financial support.
At last summer's G7 summit in Quebec, they announced they'd raised $3.8 billion in an effort with other countries to send the world's poorest girls to school.
However, the Liberals have been criticized for looking outwards and failing to invest more in Canadian women, particularly Indigenous women.
When the prime minister marked International Women's Day, critics questioned Trudeau's feminist credentials because of allegations from a former female cabinet minister and MP about his treatment of them.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel also said the controversy over the SNC-Lavalin affair has exposed Trudeau as a "fake feminist."
Money at home
Separately, the government is also entering into three partnerships domestically, committing $30 million in collaboration with Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Women's Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada. Each of those organizations have promised up to $10 million to match the government funding, to a combined total of around $60 million.
These groups focus on things like community building, lifting women out of poverty and violent situations, and supporting women's innovation.
The money will go specifically to projects that help women living in remote and rural areas, and to Indigenous-led initiatives.
With files from Canadian Press