OTTAWA, May 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The Ad Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights today denounced at a press conference the unprecedented Harper Government cuts to women's groups under the Status of Women Canada's Women's Program. The press conference was attended by all three opposition party women's critics - Anita Neville, Irene Mathyssen and Nicole Demers - in a show of solidarity against the attack to women's equality. Since the start of the year, a record number of organizations that previously qualified for funding from the Status of Women Canada were denied funding for the first time in their histories.
In recent weeks, the following organizations have been denied funding by Status of Women Canada (SWC): the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, le Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT), the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), Réseau des tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, Action travail des femmes.
Several other key organizations have been denied SWC funding in the last few years, such as the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, Womenspace, the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, the Alberta Network of Immigration Women, Centre de documentation sur l'éducation des adultes et la condition feminine, Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale (AFEAS.)
"These cuts to feminist advocacy will significantly erode women's equality in Canada. The Harper Government is conveniently weakening the very organizations that could challenge his government's attacks against reproductive rights, pay equity, child care and other human rights." Stated Jennifer Beaman from le Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT.)
Traditionally it has been through the funding of these and other groups that Canada has worked to address women's inequality. It is predicted that the denial of funding to these groups will contribute to Canada sliding even further down international gender equality rankings. These cuts follow on the heels of international reports that show the gender gap in Canada has widened greatly in the last five years. In 2004, the World Economic Forum gender gap index ranked Canada seventh. By 2009, Canada fell to 25th.
Many of the groups affected by the cuts have been in existence for decades and have played a significant and important role in defending and promoting women's equality throughout the country. By making these funding cuts, Status of Women Canada is directly defying directives from the United Nations to urgently address women's equality through compliance with Canada's international human rights obligations and treaties it has signed.
"Canada is being called on by the United Nations to address urgent violations of the human rights of women in Canada. These cuts further undermine the ability of the Government to meet its obligations under international human rights law. Cuts to service providers leave the most vulnerable women in Canada with nowhere to safe to go and cuts to policy and advocacy organizations leave women in crisis with no democratic voice with which to cry for help", said Kate McInturff, from the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action.
The Ad Hoc Coalition While women's groups are most directly affected by the cuts, the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights stated the cuts fit within a broader pattern of assault to democracy. Last week, the Canadian International Development Agency announced it would cut funding to MATCH International, the only CIDA funded organization with a specific mandate to help women. MATCH International has been in Canada for 34 years.
"The current Government is trying to quash any and all dissenting voices in Canada and those who promote and defend human rights seem to be a particular target," said Patty Ducharme the National Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). "Since the start of the year, the Government has shut down human rights commission offices, fired high level public servants for speaking out and denied funding to human rights and development organizations working on issues such as reproductive rights and access to contraception and abortion."
The recent funding cuts by the Status of Women are the last in a long line of cuts to women's advocacy by the Harper Government. In 2006, the Harper Government shut 12 out of 16 Status of Women's offices throughout Canada, eliminated the Courts Challenges Program and abandoned a funding agreement on universal child care.
For further information: For further information: about the Status of Women funding cuts, or to schedule an interview with groups, please contact: Claire Tremblay on firstname.lastname@example.org or at (613) 862-8232