Coady Institute Research Coordinator, Michael Adiyia, chats with a fellow colleague prior to the announcement that Global Affairs Canada was funding $9.8 million for a five-year project to strengthen gender equality and women’s leadership opportunities around the world.

ANTIGONISH: Strengthening gender equality and women’s leadership opportunities around the world, the Coady Institute at StFX University announced March 4, they’re leading the way by spearheading a collaborative five-year, $10 million project.

The project, ENGAGE! Women’s Empowerment and Active Citizenship, will see the Coady Institute work with organizations on the ground in communities across five countries in, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, and Tanzania to strengthen individual and organizational capacity, while providing tools and opportunities for women to increase their own empowerment.

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of Coady and its position as a global leader in employing education and collaboration to effect positive social changes,” remarked StFX President, Dr. Kevin Wamsley “This initiative perfectly aligns with the Coady legacy of working directly with communities to better societies, all over the world.”

Photos by Drake Lowthers
StFX President, Dr. Kevin Wamsley, highlighted how society needs to stand behind the women who stand in front – on a daily basis – and this initiative perfectly aligns with the Coady legacy of working directly with communities to better communities, all over the world.

Co-designed by the Coady Institute and five partner organizations, ENGAGE! will advance gender equality and poverty reduction by enhancing women’s capacity to participate in the social and economic life of their communities.

StFX alumnus and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was on hand to unveil Global Affairs Canada was supporting the project in the tune of $9.8 million over five years.

“Of course we’ve launched an ambitious agenda to help fund international development efforts, particularly those that promote gender-equality and the empowerment of women in developing world,” Fraser told reporters. “When you actually compare the quality of the application that was submitted by the Coady Institute, there were few in Canada that would be on par as the expected social return that we should see from this level of investment.”

The partner’s projects will focus on areas such as leadership development, social enterprise, climate adaptation, leadership and management education and future of work all with the goal of gender equitable change.

ENGAGE! will apply an asset-based, citizen-led development (ABCD) approach to promote gender-equitable change. This approach ensures that local communities, particularly women, exercise ownership and control over social and economic development initiatives that respond to their realities and priorities.

“Largely speaking, the common thread that runs through each of the five different partner organizations is that we expect to see serious progress on poverty reduction and the empowerment of women within their own community,” Fraser highlighted. “To see the leaders who are going to be coming here is going to be a refreshing experience, but to see people from this area, who are going to be able to contribute solutions to some of the greatest problems facing the world, it’s something we should all be very proud of.”

StFX alumnus and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said the federal government launched an ambitious agenda to help fund international development efforts, particularly those that promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in developing worlds – and this project from the Coady Institute checks every box.

Gord Cunningham, the executive director of the Coady Institute told The Reporter the funding announcement from Global Affairs Canada is very significant for the Coady Institute’s future as it will magnify the impact of their footprint.

“It represents a turning point in our relationship with the federal government,” he said. “Our previous funding had been through these five year contribution agreements which included core-funding – it doesn’t anymore.”

Last January, the Coady Institute was informed Global Affairs Canada shifted the way it identifies their priorities of funding and their preference is to provide funding for projects and they were no longer interested in funding programming, which resulted in a $3 million loss of its $7 million annual budget – and involuntary lay-offs were proposed for one-third of employees.

In a letter addressed to the campus community on January 23, 2019, said Coady faculty and staff were informed of planned program and structural changes to ensure the long-term financial stability of the organization.

Cunningham, who became the institute’s new executive director in April 2019 following those structural changes, stated it wasn’t hard imagine a project that would enhance gender-equality as they already had the necessary tools in place.

“We started a decade ago at our 50th anniversary,” he said. “We said if the first 50 years was around co-operative development, the next 50 years should be about women and women’s leadership – putting us on the right side of history.”

The five organizations joining Coady Institute in this initiative are long-standing partners with strong experience in advancing gender equality and community change. They include: the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India; the Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) in Ethiopia; Gender Training Institute (GTI) of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP); the Christian Commission for Development (CCDB) in Bangladesh; and Centre Haïtien du Leadership et de l’Excellence (CLE) in Haiti.

Partners and their networks will engage a cohort of nearly 1,500 women and their allies in ENGAGE!, including many from marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities and persons living with disabilities.

ENGAGE! will reach an estimated 13,810 female and 5,600 male, for a total of 19,410 beneficiaries directly, and a further 253,180 beneficiaries indirectly.

“Our ultimate goal is to enhance gender-equality, women’s leadership and women’s economic empowerment around the world,” Cunningham said. “And we see this as having an incredible multiplier effect in terms of being able to do that.”

For more on the federal funding changes to the Coady International Institute, go to: