Thursday, December 27

Benazir Bhutto - 21 June 1953 to 27 December 2007

If anyone personified the feminist debate in Pakistan, it was Benazir Bhutto. Personally she challenged tradition, patriarchal norms and defied cultural boundaries. Politically her identity remained confined within the limits of male-defined politics, marital norms and religious faith. She kept her maiden name but also kept the dupatta. These contradictions made her simultaneously the repository of hope and target of criticism on the woman's question. Men will argue that she was assassinated for her politics but the feminist perspective will necessarily see her death as a comment on the personal struggle of women in politics and in public service.
FULL STORY: The writer is a sociologist based in Karachi. She has a background in women's studies and has authored and edited several books on women's issues

Friday, December 21

I Knew I Could Do This Work

Increasing leadership roles for women in unions would benefit female workers, unions, the labor movement and women in general, a new report says.

The report, by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and funded by the Berger-Marks Foundation--a foundation established by The Newspaper Guild to encourage and train female organizers and activists--also lays out specific ways to achieve that goal, while pointing out again the obstacles women face.

Those obstacles occur even in majority-female unions, such as AFSCME, the Communications Workers, the Teachers and the Service Employees, the report, named I Knew I Could Do This Work, notes.

The new report, released Dec. 5, follows a previous Berger-Marks study of female organizers and their successes, frustrations and--in many cases--burnout. The new report draws on both data garnered in surveys and in-depth interviews with 15 female union activists: 6 from CWA, 8 from AFSCME and 1 from SEIU. They include journalists, janitors, clerical staff, horticulturists, interpreters, nurses, and teachers.

It notes 44% of all unionists are female, but women are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions. "In no case does the proportion of women in leadership equal the proportion in membership," the report says. AFT and AFSCME come closest: 39% of AFT local leaders and organizers are female, as are 60% of members. AFSCME's local leadership is 38% female, but 52% of its members are women.

Obstacles to increasing women's leadership roles within unions include:
  • Too few women serve at the top of union leadership, where they could be role models, support activism and promote women's perspectives.
  • "As a more vulnerable workforce, women and people of color have an acute fear of retribution by employers through firing or other tactics."
  • Women are often uncomfortable in leadership roles because they are supposedly not appropriately "female" roles.
  • ‘Unions place inadequate emphasis on the issues, concerns, and priorities of women workers," and--on the flip side--women have trouble making time for demands of union work, because they "are still expected to shoulder most family obligations." Many women also "have insufficient awareness of the benefits of unions to their lives as workers," the report adds. Having laid out the problem, the IWPR report suggests strategies to solve it and to promote women in unions:
  • Address women's priorities using imagery and language that reflects their experiences--and create ways to find out what their concerns and values are. Many unions, for example, do not consider women's health issues when negotiating health benefits in contracts.
  • Create and support formal mentoring programs for women, along with "creating and supporting dedicated space for women to address their concerns."
  • Putting more women into leadership positions, locally and nationally. The AFL-CIO has set a goal, by its 2009 convention, that the proportion of women and minorities in union delegations should reflect their proportions in union membership. The report notes, for example that CWA--the parent union of The Newspaper Guild--is 51% female, but only 12% of its leaders are women. Its 19-member board has 4 women.
  • Institute measures to "highlight the importance of women's contributions" to the union movement.
  • Give women "flexible options for involvement by providing child care and other supports, finding creative times and places to meet, and looking for women's input on these and other strategies," and "provide training on effective ways to mobilize women."

For more information

Read the full report at

With thanks to my nominator......

Uncorrected Proofs recently ran the "2007 Unofficial Blogging Dipper Awards " and imagine my suprise to learn that our F-email Fightback blog was nominated!

Thanks to whoever it was that nominated me and here are the nominees and winners:

Best Overall Dipper Blog
Accidental Deliberations
La Revue Gauche

Winner: Accidental Deliberations, Best Overall Blog

Best Feminist Dipper Blog
Idealistic Pragmatist
F-email Fightback

Winner: Politics’n'Poetry, Best Feminist Blog

Best Labour Dipper Blog
La Revue Gauche
Rusty Idols
The Daily Dissidence

Winner: La Revue Gauche, Best Labour Blog

Best Partisan Dipper Blog
Accidental Deliberations
Northern BC Dipper

Winner: Buckdog, Best Partisan Blog

Best Radical Dipper Blog
La Revue Gauche
Red Menace

Winner: Paulitics, Best Radical Blog

Thursday, December 20

PIVOT - fighters for social justice


PIVOT volunteers in Vancouver are giving the city's homeless a little warmth, and legal information, this holiday season.

Starting Tuesday afternoon, activists began handing out 500 water-proof, high-tech blankets to people in the low-income Downtown Eastside. Printed inside every blanket is an explanation of the rights and protections homeless people have under the law in Vancouver.

Mountain Equipment Co-op helped design the blankets, which are made of a material that is sturdy and insulating, but light enough to fold up into a small sack. They can be used as a tarp, covering people and their belongings.

Sex work is Work

Katrina Pacey is a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver. Pivot is engaged in social justice work through legal reform in the inner city of Vancouver. Pacey is currently taking a case to the British Columbia Supreme Court, and eventually, the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that the country's prostitution laws violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Pacey recently spoke to IPS correspondent Am Johal.

Vancouver's pre-Olympic housing crisis

David Eby is a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, and the author of a comprehensive report (Cracks in the Foundation) on the housing situation in Canada's poorest postal code, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

He speaks about Vancouver's pre-Olympic housing crisis

Why do brown-skinned women go missing more frequently in colonized countries?

A Luther College professor wants to know why brown-skinned women go missing more frequently in colonized countries.

"I was teaching a feminist theory class last winter and I showed my students a film called Senorita Extraviada. It's about missing women in Juarez, Mexico," said Brenda Anderson, who teaches women's studies at the University of Regina. "These good students, they said, 'What do we do about this?' Out of that class actually there's a conference being organized by students and myself."

Brenda Anderson is planning a unique course that will study the issue of missing indigenous women.

"Societally we all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone is protected and everyone is safe," she said. "That's where we were all coming from, that we need to stand in solidarity with indigenous community members."

"There's a history of colonization. There is a history of neo-colonial policies and there's a history of societal disregard for violence against indigenous women," she said. "This is constructing a society where (indigenous women) are targets of violence and that's not fair."

For more information on the August conference, contact Anderson at

A Saskatchewan database of all missing persons is available at the Saskatchewan Chiefs of Police Web site (

Wednesday, December 19

If feminists made the rules on all future nuclear activities....

The Stonehaven Statement: A Feminist Anti-Nuclear Gathering

Between the 17th anniversary of the Three Mile Island disaster and the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy; in order to ensure a safe and livable world for our children and for all future generations, the following must occur:

  1. Don't make anything that can't be safely disposed of.

  2. People who live in communities contaminated by radioactive substances have the right to know what and where the source of contamination is. The local emergency planning district or entity will have complete documentation of radioactive sources, and the long-term health effects.

  3. Community residents will have veto power at proposed sites and decision making power for existing site clean-up and containment design. No ultimate decisions will be made by anyone who stands to profit financially by the work.

  4. All radioactive materials everywhere shall be subject to international accounting and public registry supported by producer taxation. Local residents shall monitor maintenance of containment, paid for by generator of waste.

  5. In principle the group is opposed to any transport of waste by air, water, highway or railway. However, there may be compelling health and environmental reasons to move this material. This conflict is a profound dilemma which requires serious global dialogue, decided on a site-by-site basis. In the meantime, there will be no new dumps opened.

  6. Honor principles of environmental and social justice, and sovereign indigenous rights and all Indian treaties; keep radioactive waste off Indian lands.

  7. Keep all uranium in the ground. Restore contaminated mining sites and provide health care, compensation and reparation to all affected individuals and communities.

  8. Prohibit nuclear weapons research, design, development and testing of any kind including laboratory experiments, hydrodynamic non-nuclear explosions and computer simulations. Stop nuclear testing in the US. Subject all weapons labs to international monitoring and close all nuclear sites. Establish laboratories to research and develop technologies for preventing leakage of radioactive waste.

  9. The rights of present as well as future generations to monitor radioactive waste will be insured. All containment will be retrievable to enable improved technologies for additional safety.

  10. Public education will be required for all, beginning with school children, about the source, nature and necessary containment of radioactive materials in order to preserve continuity of life on the planet. Join together locally, regionally, nationally & globally to expose the lethal reality of our nuclear legacy.

Tuesday, December 18

Advocacy groups head to court to fight cancellation of the court challenges program

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a prominent Charter skeptic, and his justice minister, Rob Nicholson, were conspicuously absent from the commemorative festivities when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms marked its 25th birthday on April 17.

And when Sharon McIvor, a First Nations woman from Merritt, BC, who fought to have her case challenging sex discrimination in the Indian Act, won, the federal government decided to appeal, (while eliminating funding for the Court Challenges program that would financially assist McIvor with taking her case forward. )

On December 6 - Harper issued a press release where he had the audacity to say: "We have also initiated measures to address the unequal treatment of aboriginal women. They deserve the same matrimonial property rights and human rights protections that apply to all other Canadian women."

REALLY? ...........Then why appeal the McIvor case?

NOW - A coalition of advocates for minorities, women and the disabled is seeking to join a court challenge to the widely criticized federal Conservative government's decision to cancel a decades-old program that provided money for equality-focused legal fights.

In an application to be filed Tuesday in Federal Court, the coalition argues the death of the court challenges program will damage efforts to ensure charter rights are respected.

Sunday, December 16

YouTube response to the Stephen Harper Conservative Government's 2006 cuts to Status of Women

The Ad-hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights presents an animated response to the Stephen Harper Conservative Government's 2006 cuts to Status of Women, The Court Challenges Program, National Child Care, and Pay Equity in Canada


From Our Website (embedded Youtube player)

Bringing Young Boys Together to Work Toward a Future to End Violence Against Women

In unique partnership between the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), Toronto Hydro, and the Status of Women Committee of The Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT), 100 Grade 7 & 8 boys will come together to learn about ending violence against women.

This full day conference will educate and inspire via interactive workshops on topics ranging from gender stereotyping in the media, and positive and negative messages in music. The main objective of the conference will enable the boys to understand what strength means, and learn what they can do to create a future with no violence against women.

"At the White Ribbon Campaign, we know it is critical to reach young boys with the tools and resources to challenge stereotypes around male violence. Without the amazing and progressive corporate support of Toronto Hydro, and the dedication to these issues of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, it would be very difficult for us to reach this group of young boys." according to Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign.

Blair Peberdy, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Public Affairs says, "Toronto Hydro Corporation congratulates The White Ribbon Campaign on its work in 2007."

"The Elementary Teachers of Toronto, Status of Women Committee is providing an opportunity for young boys to come together and begin to understand the inequities that exist in their classrooms and in society. As educators we recognize that it is important for young boys to understand how society can influence their perception and how they interact with others. This conference is an important step in achieving gender equity and in building positive relationships", said Sonia Ellis, Executive Officer for ETT.

The White Ribbon symbolizes a man's pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign is the world's largest effort by men to end men's violence against women. Started by a handful of men in Canada in 1991 on the second anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, there are now White Ribbon Campaigns in over 50 countries around the world. What began as an annual awareness week is now a year-round effort focusing on education and awareness, and challenging men around their role in ending violence against women.

LINK: MarketWire

Faces of Hope

A local artist's exhibit at Two Rivers Gallery honouring the 50 missing and murdered women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has inspired another exhibit called the Faces of Hope.

Faces of Hope is a collection of self-portraits of women of all ages, who participated in 10 workshops held throughout November in connection with Betty Kovacic's A Roomful of Missing Women exhibit.

The self-portraits of more than 80 women now grace the lobby of the gallery.

Carolyn Holmes, public programs manager at the gallery, said she invited several community organizations, such as women's groups, youth and youth-at-risk groups to take part in the workshops. Other groups, including a school, came forward on their own.

LINK: Prince George Citizen

Thursday, December 13

Laval plagued by high proportion of women in distress

Laval, one of the province’s most prosperous regions, is characterized by the highest proportion of psychologically distressed women. The Table de concertation de Laval en condition feminine - The Laval Task Force on the Status of Women – (TCLCF) held a conference at Chomedey’s Chateau Royal in November to address the situation.

The conference, which was open to the public, gathered together 200 women from community circles and the health and social services network. The perspective of the exercise was social rather than biomedical.

In her opening address Catherine des Rivières-Pigeon, professor of sociology at the Montreal Campus of the University of Quebec, noted that “women who suffer from psychological distress and depression are much more numerous than men. To this day we still cite biological differences to explain this disparity: hormones, pre-menstrual periods, menopause, and post-partum are often stated as causes of the problem. (But) it’s important to look at social factors of distress and accept the limits of approaches which are exclusively biomedical, in any study of this health problem.”

In the morning part of the conference emphasis was also put on the difficult task of reconciling work and family for many women living in serious and precarious economic situations.

Conference workshops also tackled isolation of immigrant women, violence and mental health, as well as drug-addiction, psychological distress and single mothers.

The portrait

After lunch, the conference turned into a bustling improvised discussion producing lots of excitement. Everyone was ready to talk about the ‘Global approach to women’s health and practical alternatives.” Suzanne Despatie of the Group d’action autonome (Task Force on Autonomy), stated, identifying the constants that still prevail in today’s hospitals and CLSCs.

“There’s still very little recognition of the victims of rape and other violence. Women are often treated like children and their demands and needs not listened to by medical personnel. Anti-depressant medication is quickly prescribed without due consideration to the woman’s social situation,” Mrs. Despatie affirmed, insisting also on the fact that there is a lack of translators for immigrant women and lots of scorn in relation to the right of confidentiality.

Fernande Ménard

Fernande Ménard, a pioneer of practical alternatives in matters of mental health of women, had a message for the medical profession: “For a distressed woman to resume an active life, she has to relearn the meaning of pleasure. We don’t have the right to tell these women who come to see us what to do. We have to give them back their control over their lives. The professionals should not think that they have all the answers for these women,” said the recipient of the Simone Monet-Chartrand prize. “But we can help redirect the anger these women feel. As counselors, we have to encourage these women to express their anger, which often represents the beginning of the healing process,” she added.

LINK: Courier Laval

Quebec group calls for workforce diversity summit

The Quebec government should convene a mini-summit to consider setting up a permanent task force to examine workforce diversity in Quebec, says the Conseil des relations interculturelles.

Representatives of various levels of government, business groups, trade unions, women's groups and community organizations should be invited to take part, the council said in a study prepared for Quebec. It is to be presented tomorrow to the Bouchard-Taylor inquiry into accommodating minorities.

The goal is to establish a permanent task force to identify problems and consider solutions so an increasingly diverse population can participate fully in Quebec's economic development, the council said.

Low Income Women's Group Goes Under

There's a question as to whether WISE (Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically) can survive beyond this month, when their second SWC grant expires.

Thanks to changes to SWC made in the Fall of 2006 by the Harper government,WISE and all other unincorporated women's groups - almost exclusively run by marginalized women - are no longer eligible for SWC grants. For WISE, this means we must immediately change the way we do things.

WISE began in 2003 as one woman's vision, to make a difference in the lives of low-income women like herself. Over the next four years, WISE gathered homeless and other women in poverty into its fold and grew into a national movement. In 2006, with the aid of the second of two grants received from Status of Women Canada (SWC), local WISE groups began to form in BC communities and the seeds of others began sprinkling nation-wide.

WISE developed its Scarlet Letter Campaign. Scarlet Letter workshops share elements of both learning opportunity and pep rally, by combining listening, learning, and lifting participants' self-esteem through validation and reinforcement of their individual and collective value and power. Among other topics, workshops discuss the root causes of poverty, how WISE is addressing them, and offer practical accessible methods for women on low income to work together to lead change from within their own communities.

WISE, as it has existed over the past four years is, therefore, shutting down effective December 15, 2007. They have cancelled their phone service to reduce expenses and will cancel their post office box if they do not receive sufficient funds before its renewal comes due January 30th.

Will they survive? That has a lot to do with timing, but they are foreverhopeful. Their history has proven them capable of pushing the boundaries of what low-income women have been expected to achieve.

CONTACT: Chrystal Ocean, Coordinator.Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially & Economically

Tuesday, December 11

MP calls for expanded hate-crime laws

Burnaby-Douglas MP Bill Siksay is calling for transgender and transsexual people to be protected under Canadian hate crime laws.

The NDP MP introduced a bill Tuesday that would add gender identify to the hate crime section of Canada's Criminal Code. The bill would also see hate directed at these people as an aggravating factor when someone is convicted of assault, damage to property and harassment.

"Transgender and transsexual people are regularly victims of abuse, harassment and physical violence," Siksay said in a news release.

"This bill will ensure transphobic violence. ... is clearly identified as a hate crime."
Siksay, who is the NDP spokesperson for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsgender and transsexual Issues, has tabled another bill that would add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination in Canada's human rights act.

Women's organizations denounce the Harper government, call for a national leaders' debate on equality issues

On Human Rights Day, women's groups fromacross Canada once again stand united to strongly condemn the Harpergovernment's track record on women's equality and human rights in Canada andto call for a national leaders' debate prior to the next federal election.

One year ago today, thousands of women, men and children rallied acrossthe country to protest the sweeping cuts and changes made by "Canada's NewGovernment" to Status of Women Canada and to other programs. "Abolishing thepan-Canadian child care agreements, refusing to act on proactive pay equitylegislation and eliminating the Court Challenges Program clearly demonstratesthis government's repressive attitude towards women," said Paulette Senior ofYWCA Canada.

Many women's groups have been forced to close their doors or scale backcrucial services and projects since they no longer qualify under the newStatus of Women Canada funding criteria. Their research and advocacy workdisqualifies them from the SWC Women's program.

The Ad Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights is calling fora national leaders' debate prior to the next election on key issues ofimportance to women's equality. The Coalition includes representatives fromnational, provincial and grassroots equality-seeking organizations. Hundredsof groups and individuals signed the Statement for the December 10th Campaignfor Women's Equality and Human Rights organized by the Coalition, which callsupon Stephen Harper to respect his own election promises.

A national leaders' debate on women's equality would also assist with theupcoming United Nations' review of Canada's performance under the Conventionon the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Before the 2006election, all the leaders of the major political parties, includingMr. Harper, signed a pledge to uphold Canada's CEDAW commitment to women'sequality.

The Coalition is conducting an ongoing survey of how the changes broughtto Status of Women Canada are hurting women's groups. "Action needs to beinformed by research and analysis," said Senior. "And action on women'sequality doesn't tend to happen without advocacy from women's groups. How dowe eliminate discrimination without research to show the impact ofdiscriminatory policies on women and advocacy to change bad decisions?"

Stephen Harper's recent rhetoric on the 18th anniversary of the MontrealMassacre further angered Coalition representatives. "This is the perfectexample of how this government is out of touch with the reality for women.

Funding may have been boosted for Status of Women, but fewer groups qualify"said Amanda Aziz of the Canadian Federation of Students in response toHarper's claim that his government addresses violence against women. 14 Statusof Women regional offices closed in the spring of 2007, making it moredifficult for women's groups to access services in their communities.According to the preliminary survey results, frontline women's shelters,crisis centres and transition houses have been hit especially hard byConservative government policies.

"This government's track record on policies that will ensure realequality for women is abysmal" says Lise Martin of CRIAW. "Women in Canadadeserve more than empty and broken promises. We demand to know what will bedone by our political leaders to make equality a reality, not just a slogan."

Sunday, December 9

Write-a-thon - all day Monday December 10

All day Monday, December 10, and Amnesty International Canada will be working together to bring you live video coverage of the Amnesty International Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.

The coverage is a first for and for the human rights organization. We're using groundbreaking online video technology from to deliver live coverage from events in Toronto and Ottawa.

Amnesty International cameras will be on the ground in Ottawa, while a team from rabbletv will be covering the Toronto events.

All the coverage will be delivered live via rabbletv to both and Amnesty International's Write-a-thon site

Rabble Links


I hate picking on women. We're born at a disadvantage and in our wild flailing to stay afloat, we make such easy targets. But really, do the wives and girlfriends of the Ottawa Senators have to dress up in matching pink team sweaters and call their ad hoc union "The Better Halves"?
by Heather Mallick


The gap between men's and womenís EI coverage is significant: 40 per cent of unemployed men received EI benefits in 2004 while only 32 per cent of unemployed women did.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives


You can count the number of Canadian lesbian heroes on two hands, and Jane Rule, who died at her home on Galiano Island of liver cancer last week, represents one whole handful.
by Susan G. Cole
NOW Magazine


That's a weird commission in Quebec, the one on hate, whoops, I mean "reasonable accommodation."
by Rick Salutin


Shawn Brant is spokesperson for the Bay of Quinte Mohawks and is facing the threat of jail for his part in actions that have closed CN rail lines and blocked the 401.
by Matt Silburn


Shawn Brant, spokesperson for the Bay of Quinte Mohawks, discusses blockades, economic disruption and the necessity of sacrifice in the struggle for First Nations rights.
by Matt Silburn

Saturday, December 8

'Women Who Light the Dark'

An inspiring new book by photo-journalist Paola Gianturco shows us how women around the world are using their imaginations against all odds to solve their communities' most intractable problems

“Across the world local women are helping one another tackle the problems that darken their lives – domestic violence, sex trafficking, war, poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, inequality, malnutrition, disease. These women may lack material resources, but they possess a wealth of an even more precious resource: imagination. And their imaginations light the dark."

So begins Women Who Light the Dark, Paola Gianturco’s latest breath-taking journey into the lives of women around the world.The book, a series of vignettes and photographs, highlights women and organizations in 15 countries who are using innovative methods to tackle some of their society's most intractable problems – from child rape in Zimbabwe to unemployment in Nepal, from discrimination in Slovakia to legal inequality in Morocco.

Friday, December 7

Fourth Annual Gathering of Women in Science

The Fourth Annual Gathering of Women in Science provided an opportunity for faculty and graduate students to discuss the challenges of life in scientific research from the perspective of women.

The recruitment of women into science academia is an issue with which Margaret-Ann Armour (pictured) is well acquainted. A founding member and past Vice-Chair of WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology), Armour is a recipient of a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, a Member of the Order of Canada and Associate Dean of Science (Diversity) at The University of Alberta.

“Whenever I started saying I was concerned about the percentage of women faculty members, people would say, ‘Don’t worry, just give it time, there’s 50 per cent women in undergraduate science, there’s 35 per cent women in PhD programs, just be patient,’ ” said Armour.

“Well, see what being patient does? Nothing. …Now that I’m white haired I’m an awful lot less patient than I used to be and I’m not prepared to wait too much longer for this to change.”

FULL STORY: Western News
RELATED: Women in Science
RELATED: For the first time since the 1998 creation of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, the top honors have gone to girls. One of the two projects to take the $100,000 prize was the creation of a molecule to help block drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria from reproducing. The other studied the bone growth in zebra fish.

Interesting tidbits: Three-quarters of the finalists have at least one parent who is a scientist. Girls outnumbered boys in the final round for the first time. Most of the finalists were from public schools. The most popular project was from three home-schooled girls who have conceived of a Burgercam, a system for monitoring the elimination of E. coli bacteria in burgers. (via nytimes)

PAMELA CROSS--Violence rooted in inequality

As each year passes since the murders of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, I struggle with the best way to commemorate those deaths and to place them in the historic context of the violence that continues to be experienced by women across Canada and around the world.

And, each year, I become angrier.

Why? Because the killing of women -- something that should be treated with outrage every time it happens -- is commonplace; in fact, it is almost no news at all.

Why? Because any reaction other than anger to the ongoing abuse, torture and slaughter of women at the hands of men is just not appropriate. It means you are not paying attention.

Why? Because in a world that has conquered so many serious problems and challenges, that has figured out how to travel in space, to put thousands of songs on a piece of equipment as big as my thumb, that can create human life in a test tube, there is no excuse for not figuring out how to end violence against women.

Why? Because anger motivates action, and we need action.

Why? Because in the seven years between 2000 and 2006, the number of women killed by their partners and former partners was 500 -- more than 70 a year and five times as many as the total number of Canadian frontline military and police deaths in the same time.


Dec. 6 still matters because women in Canada still experience violence in appalling numbers. Not only are women killed in shocking numbers but tens of thousands more are battered and beaten, emotionally abused and sexually assaulted -- 100,000 women and their children use battered women's shelters every year in this country.

Violence against women is rooted in women's inequality. Until we end that inequality we are not going to end violence against women.

Because women are not equal, women are poor. When women are poor, they are more vulnerable to violence -- it is harder to leave an abusive partner, it is harder to live in safe housing, in safe parts of the city; it is harder to find safe work.

Because women are not equal, we are under-represented politically. We see the impact of the lack of representation by women in the kinds of policy decisions being made in areas such as child care, maternity/parental benefits and pay equity, all of which have an impact on women's ability to live lives free from violence.

Because women are not equal, Canadian laws related to violence against women do not reflect the reality of women's lives and vulnerability to violence.

And yet, a little over a year ago, the federal government declared women in Canada had achieved equality and put an end to funding for women's equality research and advocacy work.

This, in a country where more than 70 women a year are murdered by men, where women earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by men, where there is no national child-care strategy, where women are not safe in their homes, their schools, their workplaces or on the streets.

If this is equality, I would hate to see inequality.


Dec. 6 is an annual opportunity to remember the 14 women murdered at L'Ecole Polytechnique.
It is also a time to commit to another year of activism to end violence against women.

Seventy dead women and 100,000 women and children living in shelters every year is simply too many.

Let's make 2008 the year we end women's inequality and take a giant step towards ending violence against women in Canada

Showing their colours

Eighteen differently designed fleece scarves hung on a clothesline, each a poignant reminder of women beaten and broken.

But the messages on the purple scarves are also a symbol of the courage of women who have survived violence.

"Rape breaks my body and my heart," one abused woman wrote on her scarf, with a broken heart made of red felt attached to it.

On another scarf, a woman tells her abuser there was no excuse or justification for his behaviour.

"I chose to live without abuse," the woman wrote. "I chose to protect my child from abuse. I chose a different life."

The scarves displayed Thursday at Province House are among 300 designed by abused women from across Nova Scotia as part of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia’s Clothesline Project.

FULL STORY: Nova Scotia News

Visitors to Province House look at The Clothesline Project, an artwork to honour victims of abuse

(Daily News/Andre Forget)

A table was set for 14 who will never attend

Fourteen seats remained empty last night around a single table in the St. George banquet hall in Waterloo.

A black and white photo and a red rose sat at each place -- one for each of the 14 young women who inspired the solemn gathering, but who will never have the chance to attend.

Last night was the 18th anniversary of the day a man walked into Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and murdered 14 women.

In one of hundreds of ceremonies held across Canada, members of the Canadian Federation of University Women gathered to remember that night and reflect on the problem of violence against women.

Thursday, December 6

Sudbury City Council - only public and/or not-for-profit child care

The Sudbury City Council voted in favour to amend the Purchase of Service agreements so that in the future, only public and/or not-for-profit child care qualifies for any form of public funding.

The resolution "grandparents" the existing agreements with five for-profit operators.

Stated reasons are the threat to child care from large, corporately owned child care; the need to work towards a system of publicaly funded child care; concerns about quality in for-profit operations; the importance of local planning and mentions that other movements related to non-for-profit child care like Bill C303 and advocacy work to stop the licencing of for-profit operations.

Sudbury City Council Report on the issue of "For-Profit Child Care in Greater Sudbury" is attached. Sudbury joins Ottawa and Toronto in restricting public funding to public and not-for-profit operators.

December 6 - Remember

Geneviève Bergeron,
Hélène Colgan,
Nathalie Croteau,
Barbara Daigneault,
Anne-Marie Edward,
Maud Haviernick,
Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz,
Maryse Laganière,
Maryse Leclair,
Anne-Marie Lemay,
Sonia Pelletier,
Michèle Richard,
Annie St-Arneault,
Annie Turcotte

Sunday, December 2

Every year - 2 million girls suffer the pain of genital mutilation

Amnesty International has launched an ad campaign to battle female genital mutilation (see full sized pics here and here).

Study: Women say they have to work harder

Many women joke that they "must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good" but two U.S. researchers said that may actually be true.

Sociologists Elizabeth Gorman of the University of Virginia and Julie Kmec of Washington State University, analyzed five different surveys given from 1977 to 2001, to different groups of men and women in Britain and the United States. The researchers said that no matter how they sliced the data and controlled certain variables, a gender gap persisted and that over time women were significantly more likely to say they strongly agreed or agreed that they have to work harder than men.

"We know that people give lower marks to an essay, a painting or a resume when it has a woman's name on it," Gorman said in a statement.

"And when a man and a woman work together on a project, people assume the man contributed more than the woman did. Even when a woman's work is indisputably excellent, people don't believe she's good -- they think she got lucky."

The study, published in December issue of the journal Gender and Society, said that between men and women who performed the same amount of child care and housework, women were still more likely to say their jobs required them to work very hard.

Saturday, December 1

Get Creative - Feminist PostSecret

Antigone Magazine is launching a Feminist Postcard art project and fundraiser, inspired by But instead of asking what your secrets are, they want to know what your Dreams for Women are.

What are your own dreams for yourself, your friends, your sisters, your daughters? Paint, draw, write, sketch or decoupage your dreams on a postcard and send it to the address below

Antigone Magazine
Box 61-6138 SUB Boulevard
Vancouver, BC, Canada
V6T 1Z1

With your postcard submission, they ask that you make a donation to Antigone Magazine for anywhere from $1 to $10. You can send your money along with your postcard or donate on our blog: . They will be posting postcards every second Saturday starting in January on the blog!

They want submissions from all over the world - so forward this on! Post it on your blog! Or link to it!

Women's Prisons - on track for tragedy?

More than a month after Ashley Smith took her own life inside a segregation cell at Grand Valley Institution for Women, silence is all that has come from behind the prison's walls. The same silence is echoed by those in charge in Ottawa,

While the details of what went so terribly wrong for the young New Brunswick woman are closely guarded for now, there are indicators that the system that confined her was on track for tragedy

Years before Smith's death, there were warnings from the guards' union, inmate advocates and a federal commission that keeping women in segregation cells for months was a blueprint for disaster. There were warnings from foreign inspectors and academics that the design of the segregation cells themselves was dangerously flawed.

There were warnings from community groups that programming for inmates was slipping, that too many women were being over-classified as maximum risk, and that the vision behind regional facilities like Grand Valley were being crushed by the stress of managing the prison.

While much seemed right at Grand Valley compared to the confines of its repressive predecessor, Kingston's notorious Prison for Women, much also went wrong.

Repeated requests to tour the facility and speak with inmates for this story were denied by the Correctional Service of Canada. Requests to speak with the commissioner and deputy commissioner of Corrections were also denied as were requests to speak with the newly appointed warden, Dianne Brown.

As of Nov. 20, 138 women called the facility home -- 35 more than the prison's official capacity.

While the correctional service's refusal to grant access means we can't tell their stories, what we can tell the is the story of Grand Valley and how one of the world's most progressive attempts at prison reform started to unravel.

FULL STORY: The Record

Friday, November 30

BC activist wins right to restore status rights for First Nations women

For close to 20 years, Sharon McIvor, a First Nations woman from Merritt, BC, has fought to have her case challenging sex discrimination in the Indian Act, heard in court. McIvor is a member of the Lower Nicola Band, a Professor of Aboriginal Law, and a long-time feminist activist. She was recently recognized with the Carole Geller Human Rights Award for her advocacy work.

In June 2007, McIvor won a groundbreaking BC Supreme Court judgment that stands to restore equal Indian status for 200,000 or more Aboriginal women and their descendants.

Judge Carol Ross has ruled that ongoing discrimination in the Indian Act violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She has ordered the Canadian government to remove sex discrimination from the determination of Indian status, and to restore equal Indian status to First Nations women and their descendants.

The federal government is appealing this ruling, while eliminating funding for the Court Challenges program that would financially assist McIvor with taking her case forward.

Union members and Canadian allies are urged to speak up for justice for Aboriginal women. Tell Prime Minister Harper to:
  • drop the appeal of the McIvor case
  • if the government refuses to drop the appeal, then provide funding for the Sharon McIvor case equal to the amount the government spends appealing it;
  • re-establish the Court Challenges Program so that rights in the Charter are not upheld only for those who can afford it;
  • establish an open, accountable process to put United Nations recommendations to address discrimination against Aboriginal women into practice.

Please send any donations to support Sharon McIvor’s case to: “Heenan Blaikie, in trust for Sharon McIvor" Attention: Rob Grant c/o Heenan, Blaikie, Suite 2200, 1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9.


Thursday, November 29

Home care workers know poverty first hand

Home care workers are an example of how government actions have meantpoverty wages for almost an entire employment sector......home care workers in Ontario have no benefits, no pensions,and receive no travel allowance except a mere 26-cent per kilometre for usingtheir own vehicle to travel from client to client.

98 per cent of home care workers are women.

Many are singleparents and new Canadians and are easily exploited by a system that puts costsaving before service.

"Home care workers are not even protected under the Employment StandardsAct," Stewart said. "They are considered elect-to-work workers, because theytheoretically have the right to choose when they work. Who chooses to work ata below poverty level paying job? Especially, when you have to have two orthree of those jobs just to get by."

By eliminating the competitive bidding process for home care services,and eliminating the elect-to-work designation from employment standards forhome care workers, Stewart said, the Premier could help lift an entireemployment sector out of poverty.


“Reasonable Accommodation”: A Feminist Response

As anti-racist, anti-colonial feminists in Québec, we have serious misgivings about the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles. The Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec (CSF) has proposed that the Québec Charter be changed so as to accord the right of gender equality relative priority over the right to religious expression and to ban the wearing of “ostentatious” religious symbols in public institutions by public employees.

Our concern is that the Commission and the CSF’s subsequent intervention pave the way for legislation that will restrict rather than enhance the rights of women. We invite you to join us in questioning the exclusionary structure of the Commission, the assumptions it supports, and the negative impact it is likely to have on women’s lives.

So, why call into question the legitimacy and the effects of the Commission?
  1. because although we see the urgent need for dialogue about racism and sexism in Québec society, we object to how this consultation process has been undertaken. Listening to people “air out” their racism is not conducive to promoting critical reflection and dialogue, but instead creates a climate of fear-mongering and moral panic. Furthermore, in asking whether or not “difference” and “minorities” should be accommodated the commission assumes and perpetuates “commonsense” racist understandings of some “cultures” as homogeneous, backward and inferior. In addition, the Commission’s reliance on the notion of “reason” must also be critically examined. Historically, white men have been positioned as the exclusive bearers of reason, and the Commission runs the risk of reproducing this in a context of ongoing social inequality.
  2. because the design of the Commission and the language of “accommodation” assumes and perpetuates a system of power whereby western “hosts” act as gatekeepers for non-western “guests.” A better consultative process would start with the recognition that Canada is a white-settler state, and that its history is one of colonial and patriarchal violence against Indigenous people.
  3. because the public debates that the Commission has sparked construct certain ethno-cultural communities as perpetual outsiders and as threats to Québec identity rather than as integral to it. Concerns about ethno-cultural others as socially regressive obscure the everyday homophobia, sexism and racism that pervade Québec society.
  4. because the ways that the Commission has been represented in mainstream English media promotes the idea that racism is a feature exclusive to Québec society and is not a problem—or is less of a problem—in the rest of Canada.
  5. because the preoccupation with veiled women serves to deflect from the sexism and racism that has historically pervaded Québec and Canadian society. As feminists, we must challenge our complicity with the state’s violence against women both in its colonial relations with Indigenous people and in its use of the figure of the veiled woman as an alibi for imperialist war and occupation in Afghanistan.
  6. because appeals to secularism as a guarantor of gender equality effectively function to promote Christian culture as the norm and to scapegoat Muslims as inherently sexist, erasing secular forms of sexism.
  7. because although it is still underway, the Commission has already prompted the proposal of laws that could restrict, regulate, and otherwise impede the lives of immigrant and racialized people in Québec.
  8. because regulating women’s public religious expression is gender discrimination insofar as it takes away women’s freedom and inhibits their civic participation.
  9. because the CSF is failing to meet its mandate of “defending the interests of women.” The CSF would better serve the interests of women in Québec by focusing on the conditions of poverty, violence, criminalization and racism that many of us face, and not on what women wear.

Signed: The Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, November 2007
A list of further resources can be found on the Simone de Beauvoir Institute website:
Please circulate widely. To endorse this statement please email
Media contact: Viviane Namaste, Acting Principal, Simone de Beauvoir Institute 514.848.2424×2371 or

Photo Credit: The Dominion :Women's studies student Lily Tandel presenting the statement (below) to the Commission's Citizens' Forum on November 20, at the Bibliothèque Interculturelle in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal. Also pictured, Nada Fadol, a member of the statement-writing committee. Photo credit: Tanya Déry-Obin.

Wednesday, November 28

Women and the Employment Insurance Program

A study released by the Centre for Policy Alternatives has found a significant gap between the number of women and men that receive unemployment insurance – 40% of men compared to 32% of women. The current hours/weeks formula used for benefit eligibility has been the biggest barrier to women securing benefits. The authors recommend the federal government make 360 hours the new number for qualifying for employment insurance benefits.

Links: Women and the Employment Insurance Program, by Monica Townson and Kevin Hayes, Centre for Policy Alternatives, November 22, 2007, (40 pages, PDF); New Urgency for Adoption of Bill C-269 to Modernize Employment Insurance - New study show two-thirds of jobless women can't get employment insurance, November 25, 2007, CLC website.

Bathtub helps abused women

The Bathtub Project collects toiletries for a local battered women’s shelter

A bathtub in front of York University's Student Centre is going to make a huge difference in the lives of women in a North York shelter.The tub, which is scheduled to appear Nov. 26 to 30, is being used as a collection area for donations of toiletries and bath products, which will be distributed to the North York Shelter for Women.

According to Statistics Canada, 58,486 women sought assistance and refuge in 473 shelters across Canada between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004.Of those women, 76 percent were escaping abuse, whether physical, emotional, financial or sexual.

Donations of toiletries provide women who have to escape dangerous situations with basic necessities that they might not have the opportunity to take with them when they leave their homes

RELATED LINK: Dalhousie Bathtub Project
RELATED LINK: McMaster Bathtub Project
RELATED LINK: Nipissing U Bathtub Project
PHOTO CREDIT: Dalhousie photo

Local woman wants law to let midwives practise in the Atlantic

Kathleen MacDonald was birthed by a midwife and she doesn’t see any reason why midwives shouldn’t be able to practise their art in this province.

MacDonald has been circulating a petition calling on the province to enact midwifery legislation. So far, she’s gathered about 400 names. Copies of the petition are available for signing at the Women’s Centre in Corner Brook, along with several locations on the west coast, including the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network in Stephenville.

She said the country’s other nine provinces have legislation covering the practice of midwives — Nova Scotia added their law last November. That means Newfoundland and Labrador does not have a framework in which midwives can work.

A midwifery implementation committee was struck by the Health department in November of 1999, but it did not bear fruit.

In 2003, a report entitled The Newfoundland and Labrador Midwifery Consultation Meeting Final Report points out a path toward legislation.“Women in Newfoundland should enjoy the privileges other provinces have — plus it’s a gentler, cheaper method,” MacDonald said. “The government says there’s not enough money, the nurses are crying, the doctors are crying there’s not enough nurses, there’s not enough doctors. Bring back the midwives. When you’re pregnant, you’re not sick, you’re pregnant, so why should doctors be spending time with women who aren’t sick.”

COMMON MISSION: building a poverty-free Quebec

The "COMMON MISSON: Building a poverty-free Quebec" campaign was launched today. It is centered around a petition to the National Assembly which has three main goals: obtain universal access to quality public services, increase minimum wage to a level which makes it possible to work one's way out of poverty, and increase social benefits to insure health and dignity to those lacking sufficient revenue.Signing this petition is a civic contribution toward a poverty-free Quebec and human rights, leading to a society enriched by all of its people.

Active since 1998, the Collective for a Poverty-free Quebec's membership unites 32 provincial organisations whose work shapes issues of public interest, community affairs, workers' rights, religious, feminist, student or regional affairs; regional collectives are present in fifteen Quebec regions.These organisations share a mission to fight against poverty, defend civic rights and promote social justice. Hundreds of groups and individuals from many sectors of civil society form the Collective's support network.

Ontario to phase in full-day learning for 4 and 5 year olds starting in 2010

Ontario will start to phase in full-day learning for four-and five-year-olds in 2010, seven years after Premier Dalton McGuinty first promised to introduce full-time junior and senior kindergarten.

McGuinty said studies consistently show that four-year-olds in full-time learning programs score higher in math and language skills than other students.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care called McGuinty's announcement "terrific," but said they would like to see the full-day learning plan implemented faster and with better funding.

Statistics Canada data from 2006 shows there are 272,000 four and five year olds in Ontario, but the province said the numbers in school are somewhat lower because kindergarten is optional and some parents don't enrol their kids.


Tuesday, November 27

Pole Dancing is not a Sport

The Dissenter writes: Just the other day I was in one of my classes and a new student who had been looking for a decent place to take Yoga announced that she had found pole dancing classes instead.

This caused quite a stir. .......Pole dancing in its traditional form (if I dare call it that) is situated within the context of the sex industry and its sole aim is the titillation of men.

....Pole dancing, then, is not a legitimate form of exercise. Walking is exercise. Running is exercise. Lifting weights is exercise. I find it very sad that exercise for women needs to be sexualized and turned into a pole-humping session to titillate men

RELATED LINKS: Feminism = Pole Dancing?
RELATED LINKS: Feministing
RELATED LINKS: Colbert's segment featuring Johnna Mink, owner of a pole dancing studio who views it as "a form of feminism." is no longer available....what a shame....
RELATED LINKS: Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does According to a 2003 study, women—once empowered primarily via the assertion of reproductive rights or workplace equality with men—are now empowered by virtually everything the typical woman does. I guess we can add pole dancing??

Women happier when babies delivered by midwives: Statscan survey

The majority of new Canadian mothers are happy with their labour and the birth of their child, suggests new data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada, though midwife deliveries are seen in a more positive light.

The Maternity Experiences Survey, a national snapshot of women's experiences during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, shows that 54 per cent of Canadian women who gave birth during a three-month period in 2006 described the experience as "very positive." Twenty-six per cent described their delivery as "somewhat neutral," and 20 per cent described it in neutral or negative terms.

The findings suggest women are happier with births overseen by midwives, with 71 per cent of women who had a midwife delivery rating it as "very positive." Only 53 per cent of women who had their babies delivered by obstetricians/gynecologists, family doctors or nurses and nurse practitioners said they had a "very positive" experience.

Other findings included:

  • Sixty-five per cent of women surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with the compassion and understanding they received from their health-care providers.
  • Sixty-two per cent were very satisfied with the information they received from caregivers.
  • Fifty-seven per cent said that their pregnancies had been "somewhat stressful" or "very stressful." These stressors included moving to a new home, arguing with a partner, losing a family member or financial problems.
  • Fifteen per cent of the women surveyed had been previously diagnosed with depression while 7 per cent had current symptoms of depression.

The Maternity Experiences Survey is an initiative of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System of the Public Health Agency of Canada and was developed and implemented in collaboration with Statistics Canada. It included the responses of 8,542 mothers, who were interviewed over the phone in the fall of 2006.

Gender inequality distorts politics

Although there have been great strides in equality among men and women in Canada since Agnes MacPhail became the first woman elected in the House of Commons in 1921, we have a long way to go before we achieve equality in political expression.

For Canada to truly be an equal-opportunity society, bringing women into one of the most important roles in the political domain is critical. Yet it is precisely in this area where we are failing most embarrassingly.

After the last federal election, only 20.7 per cent seats were held by women, despite the fact that women constitute 52 per cent of the nation's population. The picture is no better at the provincial level, with women winning only 26 per cent of the seats in the recent Ontario election.

How can Canada claim to be an equal-opportunity society when the demographics of our decision-makers are so out of proportion with the gender demographics of Canadian society?

LINK: TorStar

Today, the NPD’s Women’s Caucus launched its Fairness for Women Campaign, aimed at getting women back on the political agenda and increasing women’s participation in Parliament.

Margaret Mitchell, former NDP MP for Vancouver East and an activist in the fight to end violence against women, joined the Women’s Caucus.“Only 20 per cent of MPs are women,” said NDP Status of Women Critic, Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe). “That puts Canada 49th in the world in terms of female representation – trailing countries like Rwanda, Sweden and Costa Rica. That’s not right. Women deserve an equal voice in Canadian politics.”

Monday, November 26

16 days

The Politics of the Veil

A Look into the Muslim Headscarf Hysteria in France Laila Lalami, The Nation. The social controversies over Muslim headscarves and the politics of identity in contemporary France are the subject of a new book, The Politics of the Veil.

In her keenly observed book The Politics of the Veil, historian Joan Wallach Scott examines the particular French obsession with the foulard, which culminated in March 2004 with the adoption of a law that made it illegal for students to display any "conspicuous signs" of religious affiliation. The law further specified that the Muslim headscarf, the Jewish skullcap and large crosses were not to be worn but that "medallions, small crosses, stars of David, hands of Fatima, and small Korans" were permitted. Despite the multireligious contortions, it was very clear, of course, that the law was primarily aimed at Muslim schoolgirls.

That time of the month...

"They were told then as we are still told now, ‘You’ve got civil rights, short skirts, and sexual liberty. You’ve won your revolution. What more do you want?'”

Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex(writing in 1970)LonerGrrrl

Shulamith Firestone (born 1945) (also called Shulie Firestone) is a Jewish Canadian-born feminist. She was a central figure in the early development of radical feminism, having been a founding member of the New York Radical Women, Redstockings, and New York Radical Feminists. In 1970, she authored The Dialectic of Sex: A Case for Feminist Revolution. Firestone was born in Ottawa, Canada at the end of World War II

Poverty a barrier to drug abuse treatment: expert

Recently, a privately-funded treatment centre in Ontario announced that it is opening a new centre and program for women. While I applaud the fact that there is an additional resource for those women of means, I temper that with the knowledge that there exists underservicing for women who, as a result of social condition, are forced to endure inordinately long waiting periods or enter generic, mixed gender programs that don't address those causal issues that are unique to women. Please see this article released today:

Poverty a barrier to drug abuse treatment: expert CTV NewsNovember 25, 2007

The Federal government authorised an in-depth review of the CHRA in 1999 by an independent panel chaired by the Honourable Gerard La Forest, retired Supreme Court of Canada Judge. In the review, the panel recommended the inclusion of social condition as a prohibited ground for discrimination. They view social condition as identifiable classes of individuals in disadvantaged social and economic situations, real or perceived. In other words, it would become against the legal law, not just the "moral law" to discriminate against a portion of society because of their lack of wealth.

In keeping with this type of progressive thinking, I propose that it is time that addiction treatment and human rights advocates start to generate the political pressure that will lead to governments' recognizing that social condition is adding a significant barrier to substance misuse treatment for poor and underemployed women in Canada. Women suffer from the effects of stigma to a greater degree than men, and by having a situation of less gender-specific programming available to them, the treatment system has in fact increased barriers, not eliminated them.

Here in Niagara, I have spoken out in the past over the lack of resources for women. We have three recovery homes here for men and but one alternative living home with only a few beds for women. Why does this disparity continue? Until this "systemic discrimination" is eliminated, there will continue to be shortages of service for society's most vulnerable - poor women.

I invite the reader to contact their MP and MPP in your respective riding and ask them (or better yet, demand) that they recognize social condition as a prohibited ground for discrimination and take the necessary steps to provide additional, ministry-funded addiction treatment resources for women. I especially invite any concerned organizations to take on this issue as a cause for them to embrace.

The fact that you are poor should open doors for those in need, not close them.

To contact you federal: MP:
To contact your MPP: MPPs
To read more about social condition in Promoting Equality: A New Vision:

Our Innappropriate Response to Women With Addictions

Do men and women use drug/alcohol differently; do they take advantage of addictions treatment programs similarly and with equal success?

A number of researchers have focused their attentions on these questions in the last decade. Among the things we learn from these studies: Biological differences between men and women do play a role in how substance use becomes a problem. Women with addictions problems are seriously underrepresented among those entering and successfully completing treatment programs.

Which would lead many to ask: What is it about women that makes it more difficult for them to admit they have a problem, get help for that problem, and stick to treatment? But the research is also telling us that we should instead be asking: What is it about society and treatment programs that make it more difficult for women to admit they have a problem, to get help for that problem, and to stick to treatment? Luckily, the researchers have been so kind as to provide us with some answers….

- Excerpt, column by Chairperson Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Moncton Times & Transcript, 15 Nov. 2007.

Saturday, November 24

We tolerate public bullying of women

Bullying at school or in the workplace is finally getting some attention. I've been thinking there are other places where bullying is tolerated and should not be.

On most Tuesday mornings, in front of the abortion clinic in Fredericton, women who want to go into the clinic must first go through a gauntlet of protesters, many of them large men, brandishing signs with bloody photos, urging them to repent and reconsider.

Some of us have taken this behaviour for granted. It's what happens. But it is bullying. It is dangerous and potentially traumatizing bullying that we should not accept, if only out of concern for public safety — if only so we, let alone children, don't take for granted that bullying is ok.

Full Story: Straight Goods

Thousands turned away from Alberta women's shelters

Thousands of people are being turned away from Alberta women's shelters due to a lack of resources and some women are returning to violent situations as a result of the dearth of affordable housing, a new report says.

The report, released today by the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters, showed 27,000 clients were turned away from women's shelters last year. Shelter staff try to place women in other shelters or arrange emergency stays in hotels when their facilities are full.

About half the people initially turned away from shelters in 2006 were children.

"Women's shelters serve just as many children as they do women," said Jan Reimer, the council's provincial co-ordinator. "The rights of children here in Alberta need to be respected and resources need to be allocated to women's shelters so they can do the work they need to do with kids."

The report also found a dramatic increase in the number of women who said they would return to an abusive situation due to the scarcity of affordable housing.

Women leaving emergency shelters are surveyed and asked where they will go, said Kate Woodman, the report's author. Researchers found a real increase in the last two years in women who said they would go back to their abusive situations due to a lack of housing options.

"Some say they will go to family members, some say they will leave the province and others indicate they're going to return to the abusive situation," Woodman said.

"Imagine, you've learned more about how to keep yourself safe, but because you can't get affordable housing you're going back to danger," she said. "Imagine what that does to you."

Woodman noted that 80 per cent of children that come to Alberta's 43 women's shelters have witnessed violence. The report stressed the need for resources to ensure children's well-being in shelters.

"There's a growing awareness in Alberta and across Canada that children resident in shelters are not simply add-ons to the women fleeing domestic violence," the report said. "These children are at high risk and need immediate, specialist and diverse services."

Reimer, the council's provincial co-ordinator, said Alberta's shelter system needs an extra $20-million per year to operate at its maximum capacity. More money would be needed on to fund programs to support children traumatized by domestic violence.

"Part of the misconception is that shelters are providing emergency accommodations only,"

Reimer said. "They do far more than that. They're doing women's groups and children's groups, they're working with batterers. ... Shelters do a lot of work that I don't think people often see."
Alberta's domestic violence indicators - including incidences of domestic assault and stalking - are among the highest of the Canadian provinces.

More than 13,000 women and children stayed in women's shelters last year. The average stay was approximately two weeks.

Huguette Labelle--Trailblazer: A life of service, a world of change

She has had a long career of public service, played groundbreaking roles on behalf of women and spends half her time travelling the world representing international organizations. Yet it seems Huguette Labelle has just begun.

She was the first woman to head the Red Cross in Canada and the first francophone woman to rise to the position of deputy minister in the federal government. She advanced the cause of women as head of the Public Service Commission and was the longest serving president of the Canadian International Development Agency.

But Dr. Labelle hesitates to single out a particular position she has held, because she has been so deeply committed to each one that she has to be prodded to advance to the next. And for her, more opportunities and contributions lie ahead.

"The job I am in is always the best one," she says.

She advises women to be open to new opportunities and experiences. "Just do your best at what you're doing today, and people will notice."

Nunavut-Women easily plunged into homelessness: report

"Little Voices of Nunavut," from the Qulliit Status of Women Council, offers no figures about exactly how many women in Nunavut are homeless.

Instead, every woman in Nunavut is at risk of homelessness due to the high cost of living, overcrowded housing and high rates of addictions and violence, suggests the report.

"Every woman residing in Nunavut continually lives with the threat of one day having to survive without shelter," it says.

Abused, at the mercy of their partners and subject to addictions, Nunavut women may lose their jobs, be evicted from staff or social housing, and be forced to sleep outside, sofa surf at relatives' homes or have sex in exchange for a place to sleep.

"You go with this man even though you don't want to, you don't love him, you don't like him, but he has a bed to sleep on," says a woman interviewed for the report.

Many homeless women comfort themselves with alcohol or drugs to ward off their pain in cold weather.

"I've thought about hiring someone to beat me up just so I can stay at the women's shelter," says a homeless woman.

"Little Voices of Nunavut" complements a broader report on homelessness in the three territories - "You just blink and it can happen"- which was released last week in Ottawa.

The YWCA hopes this report will back their application for funding from the federal government for a pan-northern project to tackle homelessness in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The YWCA wants to work on providing more resources, such as more soup kitchens and food banks and emergency shelters, as well as programs to prevent poverty.

As it stands now, frustration, confusion, despair and anger are often directed against the shortfalls in government assistance and housing policies which favour non-Inuit and men, according to the women interviewed for "Little Voices of Nunavut."

"Our own Inuit organizations are the ones protecting the non-Inuit. I know my children aren't happy with their alcoholic father, he's just laughing at Nunavut justice because he slipped though the cracks," says a woman.

The report also looked at how homelessness affects children: "My kids turned out to be criminals. They never felt safe where they were staying. It was hard on them," says a woman.

More than 70 Inuit women from 14 communities contributed to the report. Most had children, received income support and had little education.

For copies of the three Territorial Reports, follow the available links below:

The Little Voices of Nunavut: A Study of women’s Homelessness North of 60 Executive Summary in French and in Inuktitut

Being Homeless is Getting to be normal: A Study of Women’s Homelessness in the Northwest TerritoriesEnglish ReportExecutive Summary in French

A Little Kindness would Go a long way: A Study of women’s Homelessness in the Yukon