Canada Ignores Women's Human Rights

OTTAWA, Feb. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada is ignoring the basic human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable Canadian women, says the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) in a new report issued today. No Action: No Progress assesses Canada's response to priority recommendations that were made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women after its review of Canada in 2008. At that time, the Committee identified two areas in which human rights violations were so pressing that they required immediate action:

    -  persistent failure to provide adequate social assistance to women and
       girls living in poverty;

    -  endemic violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

"Canada is the home of serious violations of the human rights of Aboriginal women and girls," said Sharon McIvor. "The disappearances and murders of 520 Aboriginal women and girls have now been documented by the Native Women's Association of Canada. About half of these disappearances and murders have occurred since 2000. But the Government of Canada has not taken effective steps to address the failures of both police and governments to protect Aboriginal women and girls from violence and to investigate that violence promptly and effectively when it occurs. The many calls from the Native Women's Association of Canada, Amnesty International, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, and many other non-governmental organizations, for a national investigation or inquiry to correct the systemic failures in law enforcement, and a national action plan to deal with the shockingly poor social and economic conditions of Aboriginal women and girls have fallen on deaf ears. The Government of Canada says that it is talking - there are two intergovernmental working groups. But, so far, there is no action."

Leilani Farha, Co-Chair of FAFIA, said "We welcome Prime Minister Harper's concern for the health and well-being of women in the developing world, and it is time that he show similar concern for the poorest women at home. Women who have to rely on social assistance in Canada do not receive enough income to pay for both healthy food and rent for themselves and their children. Low welfare rates have well-documented gendered consequences, making women less able to escape violence and more likely to stay in abusive relationships because they have no other options. The Government of Canada has taken no steps to ensure that social assistance rates across the country are adequate to meet the basic needs of women and children, and to promote the equality of women, as the UN Committee urged."

"These women's human rights issues are fundamental and urgent," said Farha. "But we see no action and no progress."

FAFIA's submission to the United Nations was filed today, and is supported by 32 endorsing organizations.

Full text of the report is available at:

SOURCE Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

For further information: For further information: Sharon McIvor: (250) 378-7479; Leilani Farha: (613) 302-7769; Kate McInturff, Executive Director, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, (613) 232-9505

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Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

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