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Program News

December 4, 2019
Empowering Auditors to Contribute to Gender Equality

CAAF’s newest course is addressing an important emerging topic: how to audit gender equality.

Gender equality is not only an issue of equal rights, but it strongly impacts sustainable development in all its dimensions—social, economic and environmental. As audit offices seek to conduct work that contributes to sustainable development and makes a difference in the lives of citizens, they are increasingly recognizing the reasons to consider gender equality. According to the INTOSAI Development Initiative, for example, “Gender equality is a must if we want to solve the substantial challenges the world is facing.”

The Team Effort Behind the Course

Gender Equality UN SDG Gender Equality
Advisory Team

Several members of the advisory team met in Ottawa in March 2018 to share their inputs for the course.

At CAAF, we have been increasing our focus on auditing gender equality over the past several years, particularly in the context of our international program. To do so, we have worked with several experts on the subject of gender equality and, last year, hired Marie-Hélène Bérubé for a newly created position: our Program Officer for Gender Equality and Ethics.

As we do for any new area of focus, we began our work by conducting research, then developing guidance. We published our first Practice Guide on gender equality in 2016 and a second, our Practice Guide to Auditing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality, in 2017 in partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Women Deliver.

We then translated this research and guidance into our new Auditing Gender Equality course, working with an advisory team which contributed to the course design and participated in the pilot delivery, held in May 2019 with our international Fellows.

We thank the members of the advisory team for their contributions and thank the Government of Canada for funding the development of this course and the Practice Guides through its support of our international programs.

First Deliveries Receive Positive Feedback

Our first deliveries of the course were held through our International Governance, Accountability and Performance Program—in Rwanda, in Guyana, and for the 2019-2020 international Fellows in Ottawa.

Obadiah Biraro, Auditor General of Rwanda; Lilian Chatterjee, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana; and Michael Pickup, Auditor General of Nova Scotia and a presenter at our course in Guyana, addressing course participants.

Participants’ highlights from the course included:

  • Eye-opening discussions on gender equality issues in their countries, looking at national data on the topics of health, education, economy and decision-making;
  • Building a timeline to chart their governments’ national and international commitments and legal frameworks that they could audit against; and
  • Learning to use two tools presented in the course:
    • Our Gender Equality Audit Topic Selection Screening Tool helps auditors identify high-impact audit topics that include gender equality. It guides users through a process of assessing a potential topic’s gender equality dimensions against four “filters”: risk, potential interest, auditability, and value added.
    • Our Gender Equality Risk Assessment Tool provides detailed risk screening questions, covering aspects such as senior management’s commitment to gender equality, strategic planning, operational management, and monitoring and evaluation.

Auditors in Guyana (left) and Rwanda (centre and right) participating in course exercises.

By the end of the course, participants agreed that auditing gender equality is something they can apply. As one auditor told us, he now sees how he can include gender equality in an upcoming audit:

“Before the training I was pessimistic about how I could include gender equality in my assignment. After the training, I realized that gender equality was a crucial component and can be applied in my audit. Now I have started to develop ideas on how I can assess gender equality in my audit.”

We look forward to seeing the results of this training in participants’ upcoming audits and to delivering the course for other offices interested in this emerging topic. Gender equality will continue to be an important focus for CAAF and we plan to further expand our work in this area. For instance, to help audit offices advance equality within their own institutions and lead by example, we will be developing guidance on gender mainstreaming in audit offices.

For more information on the course and the full agenda, see Auditing Gender Equality

Thanks to all those who contributed to the development of CAAF’s Auditing Gender Equality course.

The advisory team included:

The course development team included:


Global Affairs Canada
Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.