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Policies Matter

Public policies shape and create social conditions. They can create conditions that reinforce gender inequality and produce violence against women. They can also negatively impact women experiencing violence by making it difficult for women to access the services, supports or resources they need for safety, such as housing and income.

Although public policies are developed with the public good in mind, the political nature of the policy development process can mean that policies are often developed and assessed according to a narrow risk and benefit framework that does not take into account the complexity of women’s lives or their environment. As a result, policies often “bump up” against each other to create conflicting policy responses that negatively impact women and perpetuate unsafe situations.

From a public-policy perspective, violence against women or gender inequality will not be solved through a single targeted policy, but rather by applying an intersectional gender-based analysis approach across policy.


The Policies Matter tool shows common policy impacts experienced by women and the ways in which policies and policy areas intersect.

The tool also demonstrates the barriers within programs and practices that women often face.  

The Policies Matter tool was initially developed as part of the Policies Matter Project between 2011 and 2013. The Policies Matter Project was funded by Status of Women Canada and was carried out in partnership with The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Elizabeth Fry Toronto. The project undertook a significant gender-based analysis of policy and the impact of policy intersections on women who experience violence. We work to keep this tool updated to demonstrate the impact of policies and intersecting policies on women as well as to support with policy advocacy. The tool is not exhaustive and does not purport to be a complete reflection of all experiences of policy impacts.

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