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Canada gives Ukraine $4 million for 'Gender-inclusive demining' meant to empower women as part of billions in new aid
Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Canada gives Ukraine $4 million for 'Gender-inclusive demining' meant to empower women as part of billions in new aid

Canada's latest $3 billion funding package to Ukraine includes many mentions of gender, specifically including a demining effort that is meant to be inclusive and empowering to women.

Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his ongoing support for Ukraine — a sentiment that was echoed by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre — with Ottawa supplying another aid package to the European country with billions more in support.

Some portions of the foreign aid package, however, have raised eyebrows.

Particularly, the package included $4 million for "Gender-inclusive demining for sustainable futures in Ukraine."

An unfamiliar phrase to many, the project is indeed an effort to dispose of land mines and other explosive ordinances in Ukraine. It aimed to "safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainians, including women and internally displaced persons, by addressing the threat of explosive ordnance present across vast areas of the country."

It also includes conducting surveying and manual clearance in targeted communities, but also seeks to establish a "gender and diversity working group to promote gender-transformative mine action in Ukraine," the government's press release stated.

The operation is to be taken on by the Halo Trust, a charity founded in the late 1980s with the stated goal of clearing land mines across the world. According to the organization, clearing dangerous explosives is "empowering" for women, and it is helping the "mainstreaming of gender and diversity provisions" in the profession of explosive ordinance disposal.

A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada boasted to the National Post that women were recently approved to take part in the demining projects.

"Since [2017] HALO has trained hundreds of women in demining, team leadership, intermediate care provision and explosive ordnance recognition and disposal," spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod said. "As of January 2024, 29 per cent of HALO’s 1,127 staff in Ukraine are women ... its strategic goal is to increase the proportion of female staff, especially in senior roles," she added.

Of course, Canada's latest grant to the war-torn nation is not meant for just military assistance; it also contains many other questionable allotments.

Nearly $1 million has been allocated for "strengthening truth, transparency, and democracy to counter disinformation." This money is meant to help the country "enhance the literacy and fact-checking capabilities of Ukraine's media in order to better count disinformation in the country."

This initiative also includes addressing "gender disparity issues" in Ukraine's media.

Another $15 million is provided to complete a museum in Ukraine in honor of those who were starved by the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

In total, gender is mentioned seven times in the aid package, including the mentions of "gender responsiveness" in funding for resilient food systems and being "gender-responsive" in reconstruction efforts.

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