Thursday, March 8

No Advocacy No Lobbying Rule Stalls Women’s Equality

On the eve of International Women’s Day B.C./Yukon women’s groups are convinced that government announcements about reinvesting $5m into the Women’s Program of the Status of Women Canada will not do enough to advance women’s equality.

"The Minister’s announcement of the $5m reinvestment does not represent additional funding. That $5 million came from the closure of 12 of 16 Regional Offices, which worked very closely with women’s organizations in local communities, " says Shelagh Day, of the national group, the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA). " This small amount of money is not in line with recommendations of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women or of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Both these bodies recommended much larger increases to the Status of Women and to the Women’s Program."

The announcement today makes no mention of the changes made last year to the terms and conditions of the Women’s Program - most specifically, the removal of "equality" from the program’s mandate, and the fact that organizations will not be funded to advocate and lobby. "By not funding advocacy, the federal Conservatives have essentially blocked the full participation of women in the political life of our country, " says Shauna Paull, a Coalition organizer. "Systemic changes are needed to advance women’s equality, to ensure that women’s voices are included in the democratic process. The no advocacy, no-lobbying rule directly impedes our ability to effect those changes."

Further, Minister Oda’s newly announced Women’s Partnership Fund is not a new strategy. "Regional staff at SWC offices have supported the development of multi-level partnerships for years," states, Miriam Palacios, of Oxfam-Canada. "

Since their election in 2006, the Conservatives have cancelled the national child care program, eliminated the Court Challenges Program, refused to move forward on pay equity, cut $5 million from Status of Women Canada’s operating budget, closed 12 Status of Women offices, and imposed a no-lobbying, no-advocacy rule on women’s organizations receiving federal funding.

The Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights will continue to press for action on the following five requests of the Minister: 1) reverse closures of regional Status of Women offices and ensure core funding for women’s equality seeking groups and for independent research on women in Canada; 2) reinstate government funding for the Court Challenges Program; 3) establish pro-active and effective pay equity for women; 4) re-institute a national child care program; and, 5) implement the recommendations from Canada’s 2003 review under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


For more information, please contact:

Shelagh Day, FAFIA, 604-872-0750

Shauna Paull, BC Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, 604-209-5776

Miriam Palacios, Oxfam-Canada, 604.736.7678

Alison Brewin, West Coast LEAF, 604.684.8772

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