Let's Send A Message On Women's Day
Mar 08, 2007
March 8th is International Women’s Day. It is a time when women highlight their many achievements. Canadian women can take pride in knowing their hard work in bringing issues of fairness and equity to the forefront in this country has been successful, and that it has affected positive change.
But more than ever, the work continues because there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equity and protect the vital programs that ensured and promoted women’s rights in Canada. These programs are being eroded and undermined by the Harper government.
The evidence, and the federal Conservative record, deserves close examination where their policies on women are concerned:
- In September 2006, the Federal Government cut key programs and reduced funding to Status of Women Canada, closing 12 of 16 regional offices and introducing federal guidelines that prohibit women’s organizations from engaging in advocacy or lobbying activities with federal funds.
- The Court Challenges Program, which funded cases to challenge federal laws and policies that violated constitutional equality rights, is being abolished.
- The Conservatives claim women are already equal and the Federal government moved to cut pro-active federal pay equity legislation, contrary to the recommendations of the federal Pay Equity Task Force in 2004.
- The Federal government reneged on their promise to the provinces to fund quality child care systems. Further, they voted against a private member’s bill, supported by all three opposition parties, to establish the framework for a non-profit child care system.
- Women’s organizations deserve more funding from the Federal government - not less. These organizations are responsible for ensuring that the concerns of women are brought forward to achieve such law reforms as maternity benefits, the adoption of prosecutorial policies to criminalize wife assault and the amendment of federal and provincial human rights statutes to prohibit sexual harrassment and discrimination based on pregnancy and sexual orientation.
In the fall of 2006, Statistics Canada reported that the average earnings of employed women are still substantially lower than those of men. Women working full time earn 71 cents for every dollar men earn. More disturbing is the situation for immigrant women and Aboriginal women: immigrant women only earn 58 cents for every dollar earned by a Canadian born man, and 38% of Aboriginal women live in low income situations. Aboriginal women in Canada experience higher rates of violence than other women.
The fact is, as programs that support women continue to be undermined, our struggle becomes larger. The need for a passionate and a strong message to be sent to the federal government becomes more pressing. Individually and collectively, women need to send the message(s) to their Members of Parliament that the women of Canada demand that the government work to ensure women’s equality is a priority for this government on behalf of ALL women.
So as we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s great that women can look back at the successes and achievements of the women’s movement….as long as they don’t forget the fight is far from over.
Kelly-Ann Ivory, MGEU 4th Vice-President
Comments are now closed