2024 SMO Conference: Pathways to Gender Equality

The Pathways to Gender Equality conference aims to advance gender equality and empowerment by showcasing the impactful work of small and medium organizations (SMOs) in international cooperation. The conference will also gather insights from these organizations on the support needed for future capacity-building programs. This initiative aligns with the core Action area of Global Affairs Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a cross-cutting theme. 

Join us in Ottawa and let’s explore together the important role of SMOs in advancing gender equality worldwide! Learn more about the conference below. 

Applications are open! 

Applications for Canadian SMOs applying with an international partner are open until July 16, 2024

Applications for Canadian SMOs are open until August 6, 2024


  1. Showcase impact: Provide opportunity for SMOs to share their achievements, innovative approaches and good practices in contribution to gender equality and empowerment in the spirit of knowledge sharing amongst peers.  
  2. Engage with international leaders: Promote global voices through international speakers, partnered and working with Canadian SMOs, to open discussion and share their knowledge across the sector.
  3. Cultivate collaboration and community: Foster connections and strengthen the SMO community through informal gatherings, encouraging collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the development of supportive networks among participants.
  4. Consult on capacity building: Gather insights from SMOs on the support and resources they need to enhance their impact, informing the development of potential future capacity-building programs.

What to expect

  • Keynote presentation from a leading expert on gender equality and empowerment; 
  • Interactive sessions to exchange best practices and innovative approaches led by peer SMOs;
  • International perspectives shared by international partners of Canadian SMOs;
  • Networking opportunities to foster connections and informal discussions among participants;
  • Consultation activities to gather input on the needs and challenges faced by SMOs. 


The Pathways to Gender Equality conference is designed for representatives from SMOs funded by the Development Impact Window and FIT program, as well as any SMOs involved in international cooperation and committed to advancing gender equality and empowerment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The conference will take place in Ottawa, ON through November 6-8, 2024. Exact venue will be announced soon.

As available resources vary among organizations, we aim to promote an equitable strategy to support those that may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend. To encourage participation from small and medium organizations (SMOs), Spur Change covers the admission/ticket price for all selected participants. Since our budget limits the number of participants we can accommodate, a selection process helps us ensure a diverse range of SMOs can participate according to our criteria.

The conference is designed for representatives from small and medium organizations (SMOs) funded by the Development Impact Window and the Fund for Innovation and Transformation, as well as SMOs involved in international cooperation and committed to advancing gender equality and empowerment. Participants will be selected based on:

  • Organization’s eligibility: The organization must qualify as a small or medium organization;
  • Organization’s contribution to gender equality and empowerment: The organization must demonstrate a commitment to advancing gender equality and empowerment.

Other factors that will be considered:

  • Regional diversity: Ensuring representation from diverse organizations across all regions of Canada
  • New participants: Encouraging participation from individuals who have not previously attended one of our conferences. While we still encourage past attendees to apply, we may prioritize new participants from their organization or other organizations based on registration numbers.

To promote broader representation across the sector, we will prioritize one participant per organization.

If inviting an international partner or team member based outside of Canada, one Canadian-based participant and one international participant will be prioritized per organization.

Definition of small or medium organization (SMO) from Global Affairs Canada: the consolidated revenue in your organization’s financial statements is equal to or less than $10 million (this limitation does not apply to educational institutions) and your organization does not have annual overseas expenditures exceeding $2 million in development assistance (i.e. projects administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as their main objective (regardless of the funding source). (Source)

Do note, for the purposes of the conference, your organization must have some overseas expenditures or proof that you are working internationally in order to attend this year’s conference. If you are unsure if your organization qualifies, please reach out to John (john.kunicki@acgc.ca). 

Selected participants based outside of Ottawa, ON will be subsidized for:

  • Round-trip transportation to and from Ottawa, ON;
  • Accommodation during the conference;
  • Meals during travel and the conference (per diem according to Spur Change policies when not provided on site);
  • Conference ticket cost.


Selected participants based in and around Ottawa will be subsidized for:

  • Local transportation costs if traveling more than 25 km (taxi, bus ticket, mileage)
  • Meals during the conference;
  • Conference ticket cost.

A Travel Guide with specific details on conference subsidization will be sent to selected participants. Please note that participants will be required to pay up front for their own travel and will be reimbursed after the conference according to our travel policies (review the policies here). The Spur team will assist in ensuring you provide all necessary documentation to be reimbursed in adherence with Global Affairs Canada requirements.  

Canadian SMOs applying with an international partner: Registration closes on July 16. You can expect to hear from Spur Change by August 2 at the latest to confirm your attendance. If you do not confirm your participation, your spot will be allocated to someone on our waitlist.

Canadian SMOs: Registration closes on August 6, 2024. You can expect to hear from Spur Change by August 23 at the latest to confirm your attendance. If you do not confirm your participation, your spot will be allocated to someone on our waitlist.

Given the purpose of the selection process (see FAQ entry "Why a selection process?"), we can only accept a certain number of participants . However, if you would still like to attend and can cover your travel and accommodation costs, please inform the Spur team when you receive notice that you have been waitlisted or not selected this year. If a spot becomes available due to a cancellation and based on our other selection criteria, we will let you know.

Unfortunately, K-12 teachers will not be able to participate in this year’s conference. We deeply value and appreciate all teachers who have participated in our past conferences and please know that this decision was not made lightly. As part of our no-cost program extension, the educator component of the conference was unfortunately removed in order to fund the participation of more SMOs. 

We encourage you to look towards your local council for international cooperation who are often hosting educator-focused events. For  more information regarding opportunities in your area, please reach out to John (john.kunicki@acgc.ca) who will connect you with your local council.    

If you are partnered with an eligible Canadian small or medium organization, we encourage you to apply alongside your partner organization. There are a limited number of subsidies available to international leaders in gender equality and empowerment to participate and contribute at the conference in addition to implementing a public engagement tour in Canada. If you have any questions before applying, please reach out to the team at spurchange@icn-rcc.ca for more information. 

Unfortunately, if you are not partnered with an eligible Canadian small or medium organization, you will not be able to participate in this year’s conference. Due to the typically higher cost of international flights, , we have a limited number of international subsidies to provide and we are prioritizing the opportunity for those who work with Canadian SMOs to attend. We encourage you to register for our newsletter and keep an eye out for online training and workshops over the course of this next year.  

We recognize and acknowledge that many people are still vulnerable and affected by Covid. As this year’s conference will be held in person, we will aim to create a comfortable environment for all attendees.Spur Change will be closely monitoring all health-related news in the coming months and if anything changes, we will notify you and adhere to any updated practices as recommended by the government of Ontario. If you have any concerns related to your well-being and participation, please do not hesitate to reach out to André (andre.melrose@acgc.ca) with any questions.      


About the Spur Change program

The Spur Change program supports Canadian small and medium organizations (SMOs) to deliver sustainable results in support of the Feminist International Assistance Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals. As a program of the Inter-Council Network funded by Global Affairs Canada, we work in partnership with the provincial and regional councils of international cooperation to deliver tailored capacity-building opportunities to SMOs from coast to coast to coast.

Inter-Council Network-Réseau de coordination des conseils