OTTAWA, March 2 /CNW Telbec/ - On February 28, 2007, Canada delivered its
statement to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), the
United Nations body responsible for promoting the equality of women and girls,
and monitoring the implementation of international agreements and commitments
to women's equality, including the Beijing Platform for Action. The focus of
this year's UNCSW is the elimination of all forms of violence and
discrimination against girls.
Canada's statement to the UNCSW is our country's report to the
international community. Canada has a history of strong leadership in
advancing women's equality on the international front, but the statement
issued on Feburary 28, 2007 clearly shows we are backtracking as a country and
as an international leader.
Internationally, it is disappointing that this statement did not put
forward what we should do, collectively, as an international community to
protect the rights of girls to quality public education, healthcare, and other
public services, and to be free from violence, poverty and the many barriers
to their full equality.
The statement mentions the "close partnerships with women's
organizations, non-governmental organizations and other sectors of society"
and states that "the voluntary sector has played a crucial role in raising
public awareness and combating violence against women and girls." However just
this year, this same government has eliminated funding to the women's
organizations that have done the important research and advocacy work in
bringing violence against women and girls and many other equality issues to
the forefront, and who have proposed and piloted solutions to these societal
Indeed, the statement was silent on the series of bad decisions the
government has made on women's equality and women's machinery in Canada. Since
Harper's government was elected in January 2006, it has cut 43% of Status of
Women Canada's operating budget, closed 12 out of 16 regional offices,
eliminated funding for research and advocacy for women's equality, eliminated
the Court Challenges Program, torn up the federal-provincial child care
agreements, and refused to implement proactive pay equity legislation.
We want to remind our government that equality for women and girls is
still not a reality in Canada, and even less so for Aboriginal women, racially
visible women, women with disabilities, young women, older women, poor women,
and other marginalized women.
Canada's statement suggests that "girls must be empowered with the tools
they need to exercise their rights" and that "as governments, we must learn to
better recognize, respect and support both the incredible resiliency and
agency of girls". While the government's approach is now to fund short -term
projects that will make "a direct impact on people's lives", we ask how this
approach deals with the systemic solutions required to address the root causes
of inequality? How will that help ensure girls have a chance for equality?
Where is this government's accountability to promote the rights of women and
girls, to provide full access to these rights, and to provide the public
services they need to exercise them?
Clearly, Canada's statement falls short of where Canada should be on the
issue of equality for women and girls. We will continue to ensure that our
government meets its international obligations to equality for women and
girls. We are watching, and we will not be silenced.
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Native Women's Association of Canada
National Council of Women of Canada
Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women
Canadian Federation of University Women
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Ontario Teachers' Federation
Feminist Alliance for International Action
Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women
National Association of Women and the Law
McGill Women's Caucus, Faculty of Law
For further information:
For further information: Paulette Senior, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA,