Thursday, June 28

Hollaback at leering

Winter coats are off, it's hotter than Hades, you're wearing as little as possible. Then ...... the unwanted leering, catcalling.... what to do?

Post the experience on HollabackCanada - a place for Canadian women to post photos of and shame their harassers.

Or read a recent article in the Toronto Star- where the question"When does looking become a leer?" is explored.

York University sociologist Rhonda Lenton: "There definitely has been a change in what type of behaviours are encompassed within definitions of sexual harassment."

Lenton says it also depends on context – a 14-year-old in an isolated location is likely to feel more threatened by a male stranger's attention than a thirty something on a restaurant patio.

"Quite a few young women would almost feel offended if they were out in the evening and feeling positive about themselves and nobody noticed," says Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies at York.

And yet, her paper, Sexual Harassment in Public Places, found nine in 10 Canadian women reported at least one incident of public harassment – defined as "unwanted attention" of any kind, including "being stared at in a way that made you feel uncomfortable."

One Woman's Journey to Conquer Her Fear of Porn

"The annual U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of all major league football, baseball, and basketball franchises." -- Family Safe Media

Ayn Carrillo-Gailey would like the world, and women in particular, to know a few things about porn. For instance, according to Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, the fastest growing segment of the porn-buying audience is women. One in three visitors to all adult websites is a woman, as reported by the Internet Filter Review. These are just a few of the many facts that the author discovered on her journey to conquer "pornophobia," an affliction diagnosed by one of her former boyfriends when she categorized porn as anti-feminist and misogynistic.

Not one to back down from a challenge, as evidenced by the tales of previous adventures she shares with readers, Carrillo-Gailey set out on a mission to explore the world of porn and report back to her friends, a group who call themselves the Naughty Knitters in reference to gatherings involving knitting for charity, drinking, and hashing out the issues of their varied lives. Along her journey, more and more people expressed a similar interest. Carrillo-Gailey decided to extend her audience and share the facts she had gathered. The result is Pornology.
LINK: AlterNet

Monday, June 25

Does this mean pro-lifers like CBC?

Something is going on. Blogger Tamara caught wind of it...... The CBC Wish List has been hijacked by pro-lifers!

There's only one week to go and CBC must be really happy about that......last Friday - within 30 hours - the wish list witnessed some pretty strange things happening on the Great Canadian Wish List. In the course of an hour, one wish received more than 900 votes. In fifteen minutes, another wish got another 400.

Suzuki's wish for the environment? and student's wishes to end the war? ...Gone.

As of today, the top 5 wishes are:

  • Abolish Abortion in Canada
  • I wish that Canada would remain pro-choice
  • For a spiritual revival in our nation
  • Restore the Traditional Definition of Marriage
  • I wish tuition fees would be either lowered or eliminated

Normally when you make a wish you keep it secret. This Canada Day, CBC wants you to shout it out....................I like the last one...........

Australia's Howard and Canada's Harper....

How Well Does Australian Democracy serve Australian Women?

Not very well according to

The WA Office for Women's Policy is to be 'integrated' from 1 July into a new Department for Communities, which will have no discrete policy offices. While Australia was once ahead of most of the world in setting up policy units to analyse the impact on women of government policy, it is now leading the world in dismantling them.

As CEDAW commented last year, Australia no longer has adequate structures or gender-disaggregated data to ensure effective implementation of the UN Women's Convention (or, indeed, of Beijing Platform commitments).

Australia has been providing plenty of inspiration for the Harper Conservative Government in Canada. In its first year (2006) the Harper Government cut the budget of Status of Women Canada by 40 per cent, exactly the same cut that was made to the Office of the Status of Women when the Howard Government was elected in 1996.

Status of Women Canada has lost its Policy Research Fund which funded independent research, is no longer allowed to fund research and advocacy by women's groups and has had the goal of women's equality removed from its mandate.

Sound familiar? Like the Howard government the Harper government is dedicated to governing for the mainstream and regards gender equality advocacy as special interest pleading.

Sunday, June 24

Anglican Church of Canada shies away from blessing same sex unions

Some members of the Anglican Church of Canada were left in tears Sunday, after a motion to bless same-sex unions lost by only two votes.

The motion was supported by the majority of clergy and laity at the group’s national meeting, but two bishops who opposed the idea were the deciding factor. The motion was defeated by 21-19.

The decision shocked many same-sex supporters who thought the motion would pass since earlier in the day Anglicans voted same-sex blessings were not in conflict with the church’s doctrine.

Chris Ambidge, national spokesman for an Anglican group that supports same-sex unions, said the national meeting sent mixed messages to Anglicans across Canada and was confusing to everyone who voted.

“What is wrong with having rights of blessing when you’ve already said it’s OK?” he said. “I just don’t understand that.”

The news come only a day after the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada rejected the possibility blessing same-sex unions at its national meeting, also being held in Winnipeg.

The motion was defeated by a 200-181 secret ballot vote.

LINK: Winnipeg Free Press
LINK: photo credit: flickr - Toronto Pride

Happy Pride Day Toronto !

Happy Pride Day Toronto ! I've been searching flickr and blogs for photos and blog posts on the Dyke March and Pride parade and it looks like a great day was had by all and the weather was fine.

Pride Toronto's 27th annual celebration climaxed Sunday with a vibrant Pride Parade.

Music, marchers and dancers flowed through the crowded downtown core, embodying the festival's 2007 theme -- "unstoppable"

An estimated 500,000 people spent the day watching a rainbow of 150 floats and bands go by.

The parade, which went from 2 to 6 p.m., was the culmination of a week honouring diverse sexual and gender identities, histories and cultures.

The celebration draws approximately one million people, and generates almost $100 million for the region.

The Dyke March, the largest women's event of its kind in Canada, also took over the streets on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

The city's 12th annual march of women and transsexual people was a political demonstration, set apart from the parade to highlight the dominance of males as symbols of the gay community.
Looking forward to Ottawa Pride events in August

Curves Fitness founder and CEO is pro-life advocate

I had heard this before but never really looked into it. Then I read this recent blog post at Birth Pangs: This women’s gym undermines women’s choices.

There are links to Snopes (the "rumour has it" sleuth) responding to the "rumour" that follows:

Just so you know: Gary Heavin, the founder of the Waco, Texas-based chain of exercise studios called Curves, is a heavy contributor to several organizations allied with Operation Save America, the rather more muscular successor to Operation Rescue, the anti-choice group.

The organizations he funds are spreading the lie that abortions lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. Planned Parenthood says its operations in Texas are being threatened by Heavin-funded clinics based on the old therapeutic model "you must carry your child to term."

In an article in Christianity Today, Heavin expressed pride in his involvement with anti-choice groups, to which he donates 10 percent of Curves' profits. You may do with this information what you will.

Saturday, June 23

Yellow ribbons, pro forma epitaphs and "kiddie camouflage" fashions...

Women’s opposition to war goes back a long way in human history and is based on the fact that 90% of war casualties are civilians. 80% of whom are women and children ...

In the weekend Toronto Star, Rosie DiManno writes: " Every Canadian fatality in Afghanistan has an addendum, a pro forma epitaph: "We mourn the loss ..."; "The deaths of these brave men will not be in vain ..."; and "They died doing what they believed in ..."

All of which is true. And if the statements issued by the International Security Assistance Force press office often read shallow and interchangeable, it's because dying is a fact of living in an active military, with soldiers in combat.

In another article, Susan Whelehan is a Toronto-based teacher, writer and peace advocate writes that: "There's no escaping camouflage fashions" Susan says that as an elementary schoolteacher she sees children wearing this clothing every day.

"Do they really think I can't see them? I can. The camouflage doesn't work on a city street, at the grocery store, in the classroom or even in the park. I wish it did. Then I wouldn't have to spend so much time wondering why parents would dress their precious children like soldiers ready for combat. "..........."Or are they trying to make me believe that the only way to peace is through war? I don't get it. I won't buy it. And I wish I didn't see it."

Aboriginal women's summit calls for funding

Ottawa and the provinces need to stop their jurisdictional bickering and take a more proactive stance on resolving the litany of social and economic problems facing native women, aboriginal leaders said as the first national aboriginal women's summit concluded Friday.

About 300 delegates who attended the conference issued dozens of recommendations that called for an increase in funding for a wide range of initiatives aimed at preventing physical, sexual and drug abuse on and off reserves.

Bev Oda, federal minister for the status of women, announced that Ottawa would invest $56 million over five years for family violence prevention programs. The funding will go to 35 existing shelters and to the construction of up to five new ones, Oda said.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization, criticized the $56-million program, saying it excludes Inuit.

Mary Simon, president of the group, said it is inconceivable that equivalent funding on the issue of violence against Inuit woman wasn't provided.

"Inuit women suffer comparable incidences of violence and require the same support services, such as safe women's shelters,'' Simon said in a release.


Jinny Sims says goodbye

It's "Goodbye for now" as the head of the BC Teachers' Federation makes way for a new President.

Jinny Sims has reached the end of her term and she won't be running again.

In her final keynote address to the Union, Sims thanked teachers for their support over the years.

She says being the BCTF President is an honour and a privilege, but it's time to move on, "I've done my three years. I've enjoyed it all and now it's someone else's turn, and I'm not going away. I'll still be here as past President, I'm still here as the Vice-President of the Canadian Teachers' Federation and my activism is not going to stop. It's just going to take on a different form."


Friday, June 22

F-email Fightback's Friday Roundup

Women cannot work at a worthwhile job without quality child care

  • An editorial in the Daily Observer says: It is hard to understand why our senior levels of government have not realized that women cannot work at a worthwhile job without child care, quality child care, the kind of care that will give women equal treatment in the workforce and provide our children, no matter what economic conditions they may live in, the best possible chance to succeed.

Aboriginal Poverty - Canada's Dirty Little Secret

  • Canadians wouldn't stand for it if they knew. It's this country's dirty little secret. Poverty among Canada's first nations peoples rivals Third World conditions.While most children in this country sleep one to a bed every night, many first nations children share a two-bedroom house with 10 or more people

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention gets new funds

  • Today's SWC announcement of the extension of the mandate for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's (INAC) Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) until 2012 is great news. This extension will help 35 existing shelters and go towards construction of up to five new shelters


  • Women who use make-up on a daily basis are absorbing almost 5lb of chemicals a year into their bodies, it is claimed.

Eating disorders in adult women on the rise

  • According to science journalist Trisha Gura, whose book Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women was released in May, the number of women older than 30 seeking treatment for eating disorders has tripled in North America over the past 15 years.

Thursday, June 21

Do gender kits influence abortion?

Mail-order blood-testing kits that can determine the sex of a fetus early in pregnancy may be used for more than getting a jumpstart on deciding whether to paint the nursery pink or blue, says a doctors group.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada says the results of the early tests could be used by parents to decide whether to continue the pregnancy or abort the fetus solely based on its gender.

Using the kits to choose a baby's sex through selective abortion is a practice the SOGC "is firmly against," said president Dr. Donald Davis, calling the use of tests for that purpose discriminatory and unethical.

The SOGC unveiled its official position on the gender-testing kits Thursday, at the beginning of its six-day annual meeting in Ottawa.

LINK: The Toronto Star

CBC launches Aboriginal portal

CBC is launching a comprehensive, media-rich website called CBC ABORIGINAL. The official website launch coincides with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, and brings together CBC’s coverage of aboriginal issues on CBC Television, Newsworld, Radio and

National Aboriginal Day also focuses attention on the continuing problems of aboriginal peoples.

The Assembly of First Nations is calling for a day of action on June 29 to raise awareness and support for aboriginal issues. The recently released report of the judicial inquiry into the shooting death of native protester Dudley George at Ipperwash, Ontario, adds an important voice to the call for action on 900 unresolved treaty claims.

June 21 - National Aboriginal Day!

City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)

Ottawa City Council's "corporate visioning"process will receive a gender-lens analysis this week with the release of a"peach paper" on municipal governance by the City for All Women Initiative(CAWI).

City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) is a partnership between women from diverse communities, community organizations, academics and the City of Ottawa.

"Our city can become a better place to live when the ideas and concerns of women from all backgrounds are taken into account. Those of us who are Aboriginal, immigrant, francophone, visible minority, living on low-income or with disabilities face specific challenges in sharing our insights with municipal decision makers."

"Our aim is to strengthen the capacity of the full diversity of women and theCity of Ottawa to work in partnership so as to create a more inclusive city and promote gender equality. We assist the City of Ottawa in using a Gender Equality Lens in decision making. "

Community women associated with CAWI wear peach scarves when engaging with City Council. It is our way of saying that across our diversity, we share common concerns. We have the power to make a difference... Our Views Matter!

Wednesday, June 20

Aboriginal women gather to devise 10-year plan to combat violence

Native leaders and some premiers have gathered in western Newfoundland for the first national aboriginal women's summit in the hope of devising a long-term strategy to end a cruel cycle of poverty and violence.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said Wednesday she hopes to strike a 10-year plan that would outline ways of reducing the number of aboriginal women who are sexually assaulted, go missing or are murdered.

"It's a crisis situation that we're in right now, where there's over 500 missing and murdered aboriginal women in the last 15 to 20 years," Jacobs said in an interview.


Monday, June 18

Cuban revolutionary Vilma Espin dies at 77

Vilma Espin Guillois, the wife of acting President Raul Castro and one of the communist nation's most politically powerful women, died Monday, the Cuban government announced. She was 77.

As Raul Castro's wife, Espin was Cuba's de facto first lady for decades because Cuban leader Fidel Castro is divorced.

Espín, from Santiago de Cuba, was the daughter of a lawyer for the Bacardi family.[2] In the 1950s, she studied chemical engineering at M.I.T. in Boston before meeting revolutionary leader Frank País in Havana, the meeting led Espín to become a leader of the revolutionary movement in Oriente province.

Espín acted as a messenger between the movement and Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement who had relocated to Mexico in order to plan a future invasion. It was in Mexico that Espín met Raúl Castro. She then went on to assist the revolutionaries in the Sierra Maestra mountains after the 26th of July Movement's return to Cuba on the Granma yacht. She and Raúl married in January 1959

Espín has been President of the Federation of Cuban Women since its foundation in 1960. The organization is a recognized non-governmental organization which claims a membership of more than three and a half million women. Espin is also a member of the Council of State of Cuba, is a member of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Espin headed the Cuban Delegation to the First Latin American Congress on Women and Children in Chile in September 1959. She also headed the Cuban delegations to the Conferences on Women held in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing.

'I felt I was being punished for taking maternity leave'

Police officers in Ontario now have a legally binding decision protecting their job positions, thanks to Const. Andrea Cuthill who filed a grievance when she was told she wouldn't be returning after her maternity leave to a job she had held for three years.

When Ottawa police Const. Andrea Cut-hill was told she wouldn't be returning to her job as court liaison officer and coroner's constable after becoming pregnant with her first child, she decided it wasn't right and fought back.

The result was a precedent-setting ruling that found the Ottawa police transfer policy violated Ontario's Human Rights Code, discriminating against pregnant officers by denying them the right to return to their previous job postings.

"I felt I was being punished for taking maternity leave. I knew if I hadn't taken maternity leave, I would still be there," says Const. Cuthill, who was awarded $3,000 by arbitrator Howard Snow earlier this year after filing a grievance against her employer. "That was the only reason I was being transferred

LINK: Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, June 17

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day: "While a father may not be entitled to take the same pride in his sperm as he does in his kids, it’s fair to celebrate the single-minded cellular commas that helped give those children their start," writes Natalie Angier, who writes clinically (and humorously) about the cells that make dad dad.

Meanwhile, Canadian Institutes of Health Research experts are exploring "the biological forces that forge the father-child bond" -- specifically that "dads-to-be have showed higher levels of estrogen and prolactin and lower levels of testosterone than non-expectant men." And Peggy Drexler writes at Women's eNews about the evolution of father-daughter relationships.

Plus, Broadsheet points to a conservative blogger's hilarious take on a study by a Yale researcher that found male congressmen who have daughters are more likely to vote in favor of legislation concerning women's issues than those without daughters. The study was covered by USA Today.

LINK: Borrowed text from OurBodiesOurBlog

Nancy Drew: Feminist or daddy's girl?

The teen P.I. was a role model for many, but as Kate Taylor writes, she's had her share of detractors

Every story began with the same line - or so it seemed to me and my knowing sisters. Nancy bounced down the front steps, her blue eyes sparkling, her blond hair blowing in the breeze.

She was Nancy Drew, the preternaturally talented and perpetually cheerful young detective who could swim like an Olympian and nurse like Florence Nightingale, who could pick locks, solve puzzles, stare down crooks, and change a tire on her zippy blue roadster with the same ease she shopped for an evening gown. She was always polite but ever firm, brave but sensible, gracious but independent.

LINK: Globe and Mail

Play applauds feminists-The Trutch Street Women

The Victoria theatre company has announced a new initiative, The New Play Series, which features a brand new play each spring by a local playwright. The inaugural play will be The Trutch Street Women by Ellen Arrand (pictured) debuting Wednesday, June 20.

The Trutch Street Women follows the passion and camaraderie of the feminist movement in the early 1970s, focusing on a group of young single mothers.

The play premieres with a half-price ($6) preview show on Wednesday, June 20 at 8 p.m. Then the production runs Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. until July 7, with no show Friday, June 22.

There will be a “Pay-what-you-can” show on Wednesday, June 27 and a Saturday afternoon matinee on July 7 at 2 p.m.

LINK: Gold Stream Gazette
LINK: Theatre BC

Friday, June 15

F-email Fightback Returns

The F-email Fightback blogger has just returned from a week in Germany so we are digesting some of the news that we have missed and will then be returning to a "post per day for equality":

Friday, June 8

Newfoundland women outraged with actions of province over safety bill

For the second time in as many weeks, women in this province are feeling left out and angered by the actions of the provincial government.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Feminist Coalition feel Justice Minister Tom Osborne, is bringing in legislation that will place women and families at risk of homelessness, poverty and violence.

The Legislation, Bill 9, Safer Communities and Neighborhoods, has now passed first reading in the House of Assembly despite advice to the contrary from a Provincial Committee of the Violence Prevention Initiative, the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women and anti-violence coalitions.

"This legislation will place women and children at risk and has far too much potential to do harm," said coalition member Joyce Hancock (pictured). "The issue of citizens feeling unsafe in our homes needs a Justice response but not this one."

Furthermore the Justice department's consultation process was a complete farce and given that it only started after the (Bill 9) had already been introduced into the house is insulting to grassroots women's organizations who take the time to advise government and advocate on behalf of women and communities."

Thursday, June 7

Aboriginal women's leader joins Newfoundland and Labrador advisory council

Annie Evans has accepted an appointment as the newest board member for the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, said today that Evans is an important addition to the council because of her knowledge of women’s health and Aboriginal issues.

With a long history of involvement with Aboriginal communities in Labrador, Evans has worked to advance healthy lifestyles for people throughout the region, especially among the elderly.

“Ms. Evans is committed to advancing the status of women in Labrador and through her work with the Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association of Canada, has become a leader for Inuit women’s issues in the region,” Burke said. “Her interest and knowledge of reclaiming Aboriginal culture and traditions, which is an issue of great importance to Aboriginal women in our province, will be a tremendous asset to the council.”

Wednesday, June 6

Women's agency a victim of changing priorities: report

Status of Women Canada, the country's main agency for women's equality, seems to have been on the verge of imploding even before government budget cuts last fall.

A pair of reports from 2005 and 2006 say the agency's own staff labelled it "a relic of the past" and that its effectiveness was hobbled as gender equity slipped from being "a top-of-the-agenda issue" in Ottawa.

Opposition MPs have called changes to the agency by the Conservative government last fall an ideological move to promote a socially conservative agenda.

However, the documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act suggest the agency was due for a major shake-up even before the Tories decided on an overhaul.

A 2006 internal memo posed the question "Where is the organization today?"

The answers: "Unknown; getting worse - low and lowering profile both within and outside of government - lots of turnover with employees - no real stability - concerned about institutional stability - high turnover results in loss of corporate memory."

"We're not showing results . . . we don't have the authority to make things happen."

The documents cited staff burnout, including people leaving out of frustration, a "defeatist attitude" and lack of political leadership, no "clear vision of where it's going and how it plans to get there," and "inefficient attention to results and accountability."

The consulting firm Sussex Circle was commissioned in 2005 to look at the agency. It interviewed officials from the Privy Council and Treasury Board as well as the agency's senior management and staff.

The 2005 study quoted officials as calling the agency a "a relic," an institution that may once have served an important purpose, but whose mission and mandate needed to be rethought or updated.

James Mitchell, author of the reports, declined to comment.

Despite the call for rethinking the agency, the documents also highlighted some successes, including its work with aboriginal women and potential for a turnaround after creation of the Commons committee on the status of women in 2004.

But the reports concluded that gender equality was no longer a headline political issue for the federal government.

The 2005 study, completed before last year's federal election, said gender equality "ought still to be a matter of serious concern to the government, but in a different way than, say, 30 years ago."

"Other issues of equality and rights, notably related to the rights and circumstances of immigrants and people of colour, have become more prominent in the public mind and on the government agenda."

The Liberals, who were in power when this study was commissioned, say they don't agree with the criticisms.

"It was under our government that we introduced parental leave, early learning and child-care programs to ensure that women are more self-sufficient and to address poverty of women," said Maria Minna, Liberal critic for the status of women.

Bev Oda, the Conservative minister for the status of women, said the government reviewed all of the reports when it considered changes to the agency.

"I think it just shows that the Liberal government was out of touch all along and not aware of the real issues that women face," she said.

The Conservatives appear to have adopted some of the documents' suggestions.

Helene Dwyer-Renaud, one of the agency's directors, wrote in an e-mail to Mitchell, the report's author, that her vision of the agency would not include the women's issues advocacy work, but rather an integration of gender policy into all government departments.

"So, based on that, do you need separate ministerial services? Who wants to be the minister of a phasing-out department?" she wrote.

While the Conservatives didn't do away with the women's program, many women's rights groups protested the removal of women's equality from the program's mandate and the end to funding for advocacy, lobbying and research by women's groups.

Critics also opposed the closure of 12 of 16 regional offices and $5 million in funding cuts.

But in the 2007 federal budget, the Conservatives reversed the cuts by pledging $20 million over two years and said they supported the "full participation"of women in the economic, social and cultural life of Canada."

Catherine Tillsley, executive director of the National Council of Women of Canada, said she still worries about the agency's future. Where it was once a ministry, it's slipped to the status of a program.

"I think we're going to lose Status of Women Canada entirely," she said. "I think that's the goal of the Conservatives."

She said women have yet to achieve full equality, citing pay inequity and violence against women as examples.

LINK: 570 News

NDP MP outraged at changes to Women’s Program

“This Conservative government didn’t listen to women and has officially removed equality from the mandate and eliminated any research or advocacy funding. This is an assault on the women’s movement in Canada,” said Irene Mathyssen, Status of Women critic for the NDP.

“This government is side-stepping its role and forcing organizations to find funding from outside sources before committing any federal funding. This leads to organizations depending on charity, not merit, for funding.”

To be eligible for funding under the new mandate, organizations must have proof of another source of funding in writing. Organizations are also restricted from applying for funding for research, lobbying, and pre-existing programs.

“These restrictions make it impossible for organizations to plan, or to engage in any long-term projects,” said Mathyssen. “There is no room for capacity building, there is no core funding. If this government were truly interested in addressing women’s rights they would invest in core funding for programs that work to eliminate women’s inequality in Canada.“

“We are now taking steps backward on equality rights instead of forward,” said Mathyssen. “By shutting offices, changing the mandate and cutting funding, Bev Oda is not promoting women’s rights. The Conservative Government is not committed to promoting women’s equality,” continued Mathyssen. “They are abandoning women in this country.”


Vancouver Women To Demand Housing June 8

In response to the growing violence of poverty and homelessness, women in the Downtown Eastside and the Power of Women to Women Group are joining together to organize for and demand safe and long-term affordable housing.

According to the 2005 GVRD Homelessness Count, there has been an increase of 60% in the number of homeless women since the 2002 Count, with shelter beds available for no more than 50% of homeless women. Cuts to income assistance, legal aid, women's centres, attacks on women's advocacy and support services, the lack of childcare support, rising costs of living and housing, and low-income work all have had devastating impacts on women. Overall, the number of homeless people has doubled to approximately 2,174 people in 2005. It is estimated that the rate of rapid gentrification leading to the Olympics will triple the number of homeless in Vancouver.

This march is also being organized in solidarity with sisters in the Women Against Poverty Collective in Toronto, who on June 3 are organized a housing takeover in Toronto to draw attention to the links between safe housing and women's ability to live free from violence.

You can "Step it Up!" Here's How

"Sexual Harassment Awareness Month" comes out of many years of hard work by women in the rape crisis and labour movements in Ontario.

"Step it Up!" is a message from women to the Province of Ontario. "Step it Up!" wants better, faster government action to end violence against women.

All governments say they care, but they don't often show it with effective action. Governments have either given small, unpredictable resources to under-funded women's and equality-seeking organizations or have expected more and more financial support to come from private citizens. Organizations and services are grateful for the crumbs they get to work with women and children who are victimized, but it's not enough.

You have something to say about stopping violence against women.

Survivors, women's advocates, equity groups, unions, children and youth groups, school and churches, businesses, government representatives and individuals — anyone — can send a message to government to step up its action on ending violence against women now.

"Step it Up!" has ideas on ways to speak out. You might come up with even better ones!

"Stepping it Up!" Ideas

Endorse "The Step It Up!" Campaign
Get Your Politicians To "Step It Up!"
Help Your Community "Step It Up!"
How Kids Can Help "Step It Up!"

Tuesday, June 5

Status of Women FINALLY posts guidelines for women's equality funding

As many women's organizations find themselves in "crisis funding mode", SWC has FINALLY provided their promised guidelines on their website.

The SWC Women's Program aims to achieve the full participation of women in the economic, social and cultural life of Canada. The Program will be delivered through two components.

Women's Community Fund

The Women's Community Fund is a grant and contribution fund of $12.3 million to support projects at a local, regional and national level.

The Women's Partnership Fund

The Women's Partnership Fund is contribution funding of $3.0 million for collaborative projects that involve non-governmental organizations in partnership with public institutions and other levels of government.

Don't Bother Applying If:

  • Your organization is a "not-for-profit" but you are NOT incorporated (An organization that is not incorporated and wishes to apply to the Women's Program for funding must partner with an incorporated organization which agrees to apply to the Women's Program and take financial and administrative responsibility for the project on their behalf.)
  • Your organization is a union or a cooperative
  • Your organization does capacity building
  • Your organization does research and polling activities;
  • Your organization does advocacy activities and lobbying of federal, provincial and municipal governments;


In memory - Editha Mangaoang

A workshop was held near Brantford to help local agencies better serve immigrant women.

Immigrant women might come from drastically different environments, and may not know their rights. They may be unaware of things Canadians take for granted, such as calling 911.

For example, some women don't want to report abuse because they fear their husbands will have them deported. They also fear that the Children's Aid Society will take away their children

Shiela Farrales of the Philippine Women Centre of B.C. said violence is a problem because immigrants face intense pressures."The majority of our community are live-in caregivers," she said. "

Sponsor families are essentially strangers. Domestic workers struggle to survive. We're stuck in low-income jobs.

"Women are more vulnerable to physical and domestic abuse. One of the effects is violence against women. The tragic result is Editha, 41, who disappeared on May 8, and her decomposing body was found on May 23 wrapped inside a box in a parking lot in Richmond,

"When we hear of abuse and even killings . . . it causes us to organize our own community with more urgency. ", said Shiela

Women's housing protest ends in four arrests

What started hopefully, with activists carrying banners calling for an "end to violence against women," ended with the arrest of four women.

More than 150 women's rights activists took to the streets yesterday, and later set up a makeshift tent city at St. Jamestown West Park, when police came in on horses and arrested several of them.

The initially peaceful stand took a nasty turn when police descended on anti-poverty protestors occupying an abandoned building at 4 Howard St in the Bloor and Sherbourne area.

East Vancouver - Bright pink whistles handed out to women

Bright pink whistles are being being handed out to women in East Vancouver as part of a campaign by police and transit officials to help prevent attacks on women near SkyTrain stations.

There has been a series of disturbing attacks on women near the 29th Avenue and Nanaimo Street SkyTrain stations in the past five months.

Three women were attacked by a man with a tire iron in late December.


Monday, June 4

Prairie Women's Health on Rural and Remote Women

The mental health of rural Saskatchewan women is threatened not only by gaps in the provision of mental health services, but more importantly by the social and economic conditions of being female in a rural setting. In Saskatchewan, women with mental illness can experience not only the social isolation and stigma of mental illness but practical considerations related to access to fewer services, especially specialists, and particular needs related to geographic distance and transportation.

LINK: Praire Women's Health
LINK: The Full Report - A Preliminary Gender-Place Analysis

Since 1989, food bank use has increased by 99 per cent

With food bank use on the rise in virtually every community across the country, the Canadian Association of Food Banks has drafted an online petition it hopes will be a clarion call to Ottawa to help end hunger in Canada.

The petition, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of his cabinet including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg, appeals to Canadians to urge the federal government to take action on hunger in honour of National Hunger Awareness Day on Tuesday.

Since 1989, food bank use has increased by 99 per cent.

Katie Karimi, a Toronto-area mother who used a food bank for six months when her marriage was ending, says there are many misconceptions of the types of individuals that rely on food banks.

"The majority of these people are working, a lot of them are working full-time, a lot of them have university and college education," she said.

"People who use food banks are people like me, people like you, a neighbour, it could be anybody."

N.B. Child Care Coalition Welcomes Public Consultation

The N.B. Child Care Coalition is pleased with the provincial government’s decision to hold a public consultation on early learning and child care in June, including an Internet survey and focus groups.

There are over 99 000 children under the age of 12, in N.B. …and 14 170 regulated child care spaces, which means 86% of New Brunswick children do not have access to regulated child care services.

The Coalition considers this to be an alarming situation. Coalition spokesperson Jody Dallaire says “Let the government of New Brunswick know that you demand quality, universally accessible, non-profit, publicly funded and regulated child care services, with trained and adequately remunerated staff, for all children who want or need it,” she says.

LINK: Media Release
LINK: Discussion Paper
LINK: Survey deadline June 30, 2007

Programs needed for female inmates: Nunavut women's council

The Nunavut government's decision to build a correctional facility for women is a "good step forward," but programs targeted at helping female inmates are also needed, says the head of the territory's status of women council.

The $1.2-million women's prison, which is scheduled to open within the next two years on the grounds of the Baffin Correctional Centre, will house up to eight women on remand and those serving light sentences.

Premier and Justice Minister Paul Okalik told CBC News on Friday that the new facility will replace the trailer currently being used to house women in custody.

Kathy Hanson, president of Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, said: "They might need couples counselling, they might need reintegration into a community, they might need alcohol and drug counselling," she said. "We have a lot of homeless women in Nunavut, and sometimes they might be doing crimes because they have nowhere to go."


Sunday, June 3

Police, women's anti-poverty group locked in standoff

Saying their demands for safe, affordable housing for women have been ignored for too long, members of an anti-poverty group took over an abandoned house on Sunday and are locked in a tense standoff with police.

About 150 members of the Women Against Poverty Collective (WPAC) took to the streets earlier in the day to take part in an anti-poverty demonstration.

Police arrived at what was an abandoned house at 4 Howard St., in the Sherbourne and Bloor area, when some of the protesters took over the building in the afternoon.

The women hung a banner and pitched tents on the property, saying they will keep the building and provide their own affordable housing for women and their children.

"We are children of survivors, we are survivors, we are friends of survivors of violence and poverty," one protester shouted through a megaphone from a window. "For too long we've had to witness our mothers, our sisters, our friends live through violence."

The group says this action is necessary because the provincial and federal governments haven't followed through on promises for housing and childcare.

"This is necessary because those who are trying to leave violence are stuck in shelters for months instead of the few weeks they should be there with their kids," said protest organizer Anna Willats.

"They can't find a place to live that they can afford. They are forced to live in neighbourhoods that are overcrowded, . . . unsafe. They are constantly moving around trying to find a place for themselves and their kids that they can live in dignity and safety."

Police told CTV's Desmond Brown that they're trying to negotiate an end to the occupation.

"But if they can't, they may eventually have to remove the protesters," said Brown.


NAWL Conference Info - online soon!

The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) held a successful conference this past May 11-12 and 14.

Supported by some 40 women of diverse backgrounds, ages, organizational affiliations, and expertise, on the Monday May 14th Lobby Day, NAWL secured meetings with the following: · NDP leader Jack Layton, and several key Caucus Critics (Status of Women, Justice, Immigration, Finance) · Key members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women · The Liberal Party Women’s Critic and several other Party Critics

A first-time experience for many of the women to address parliamentarians about issues of concern to women’s equality, during these meetings, we informed Parliamentarians of the key issues raised during the "Mothering and Law" Conference that NAWL will be pursuing in the coming months.

Moreover, during Question Period, four (4) members of the opposition (Irene Mathysson-NDP, Maria Minna-LIB, Lynne Beauchamps-BQ, Belinda
Stronach-LIB) made Statements in the House of Commons in support of the equality-seeking work done by NAWL and notably those raised during our NAWL Conference on "Mothering and Law".

REFERENCE MATERIALS ONLINE If you would like more information about NAWL, our issues, Conference discussions and/or concrete recommendations flowing from the NAWL Conference around women’s rights as mothers, the following will be available on the NAWL website ( very soon:

  • NAWL Conference Publication
  • NAWL Lobby Day Information Sheet
  • Report-back from the Maternity/Parental Benefits Workshop
  • Report-back from the Pay Equity Workshop
  • Latest edition of Jurisfemme
  • Information on our "Stayin’ Alive" Campaign

Prostitutes fund law challenge

According to a Commons subcommittee report in December, 171 female sex-trade workers were murdered from 1991 to 2004. Forty-five per cent of the cases remain unsolved. A 2006 Statistics Canada report said women in the sex trade are extremely vulnerable to violence that "often goes unnoticed."

A sex workers' advocacy group will launch a series of fundraising events tonight to support its constitutional challenge to Canada's prostitution laws.

Wendy Babcock, spokesperson of the Toronto-based Sex Professionals of Canada, said there is an "urban genocide" threatening thousands of sex-trade workers across the country.

"It's really important to fight violence against women, and violence against sex workers," she said. "I think this court challenge, if it wins, can actually save lives." The group is challenging three Criminal Code provisions that define illegal solicitations. Its case had first hearing Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court. Next court date is scheduled for Sept. 4.

"Do unto others.....?" - follow-up on PEI minister

The Presbyterian Church on Prince Edward Island is reviewing its legal options after a human rights ruling yesterday.

The church was ordered to pay more than $600,000 to a female minister after the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission ruled she was sexually discriminated against. The commission is ordering the Island Presbytery to reinstate the ministerial licence of Rev. Gael Matheson, and to issue an apology for her removal from the pulpit in 1996.

"The discrimination that Rev. Matheson endured took place over a long period of time and she is still being affected to this day by the consequences of trying to seek a resolution in this matter," the human rights panel said in its decision.

"It is clear to the panel that Rev. Matheson has endured public humiliation that will stay with her for the rest of her life."

The commission had earlier concluded that some members of Matheson's congregation in the parish of Murray Harbour North were opposed to women in the clergy.

Matheson was subjected to hate mail, stalking and a whisper campaign in which she was branded a child molester, a lesbian, and "the whore of Babylon."

One allegation accused Matheson of molesting children in the Gaelic girls' choir.

LINK: Hamilton Spectator

Campaign crash course: women work to change face of politics

Imagine a weekend filled with the expertise and guidance of big-name female politicians like former MLA Jane Purves, MP Alexa McDonough and recent provincial leadership contender, MLA Diana Whalen. Add media experts like broadcaster Debi Forsyth Smith and top it off with a competition where you and your campaign team will be guided and judged by women who represent all major parties and all levels of government.

This was the line up for the 3rd Annual Nova Scotia Campaign School for Women held at Mount Saint Vincent University from May 25 to 27. The goal: better representation of women in elected office. Thirty of us got the opportunity to attend this non-partisan school. It was first come, first serve and there was a long waiting list.

To read how the weekend went, click here

Conquest by rape

Holly's Fight For Justice picked up on the Winnipeg Press article about Sifa'd think she was in her late '20s, maybe her early '30s.Two years ago she was kidnapped from her village and dragged into the bush by rebel fighters who hide in patches of jungle.Held captive for three months, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by 13 men.She's one of tens of thousands of women who have been raped by armed forces here in the eastern Congo, an area between the DRC and Rwanda in constant political flux.

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has contributed about $170 million of financial aid to the DRC since 1998.Part of CIDA's commitment is a $15-million pledge to the United Nations Population Fund project against sexual violence.The funding -- which continues until 2009 -- includes medical care and pyschological support for victims of sexual violence in Nord-Kivu, who are mostly women and girls.

LINK: Winnipeg Free Press
PHOTO: (by Gabrielle Giroday of Winnipeg Free Press) Sifa Cizungu, gang raped when she was 12, takes classes in Bukava wants to be a doctor

Saturday, June 2

Flower-power worked

Canada's baby boomers have been waiting to hear this: Flower-power worked. The hippies' giddy make-love-not-war-movement of four decades ago actually resulted in a more loving country.

University of Victoria historian Dominique Clément says today's plethora of human-rights legislation and institutions can be traced directly back to the demands by young people in the 1960s and 1970s for a Canada that would be more caring and sensitive toward their marginalized fellow citizens: the poor, the disadvantaged, homosexuals and racial minorities.

“Biology alone did not define the baby-boom generation,” he says in a paper presented at this week's Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.

.............Lobby groups proliferated by the hundreds for blacks, aboriginals and gays. Human-rights associations were formed in every province.

One of the strongest legacies of Sixties activism was the women's movement in Canada, Dr. Clément says. It carried, at times, a heavy dose of irony.

“Disgusted at the rampant sexism among student radicals, women formed the first women's liberation groups in Canada. The generational gap within the women's movement was most evident in the Voice of Women [created during this period], which acted as a bridge between older and younger feminists. Many of the new gay and lesbian groups, from the Lesbian Organization of Toronto to the Gay Alliance Towards Equality, epitomized the generational gap.”

LINK: Globe and Mail

Friday, June 1

Dispatches from Iraq - The Women's Story

A compelling account of a life inside Iraq that is rarely seen on news bulletins: stories of ordinary women whose struggle to survive has only worsened since the war.

Iraqi women and children: The invasion of Iraq heralded promises of freedom from tyranny and equal rights for the women of Iraq. But three years on, the reality of everyday life for women inside Iraq is a different story.

To make this film, two Iraqi women risk their lives to spend three months travelling all over the country with a camera to record the lives and experiences of women they meet whose struggle to survive has only worsened since the war.

LINK Channel 4 - 48 minutes
Click here to watch this on a larger screen

Essay Contest Winners Write About Reasonable Accommodation and Blogs

Calgary is home to both winners of the 2007 Dalton Camp Award, an annual essay contest on the link between democratic values and the quality of media in Canada.

Calgary residents Audrea Lim and Gareth Lewis will receive their awards at a ceremony this evening at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences which is taking place at the University of Saskatchewan

Audrea Lim is currently a Masters student in philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York and a graduate of the University of Toronto,where she completed a B.Sc. in physics and philosophy. She grew up in Calgary and has also lived in Taipei.

In her winning essay, Audrea Lim writes that partisanship on the part of Canada's two national newspapers limited an important national debate about multiculturalism after a decision of a small Quebec town raised the racially charged issue of reasonable accommodation of immigrant culture and customs in Canada.

When the town of Hérouxville in January this year published a code of standards for immigrants outlawing the circumcision, stoning and burning alive of women and declaring that in Hérouxville "the only time you may mask or cover your face is during Halloween", the controversy soon hit the frontpages.

But as Ms. Lim points out in her winning essay, rather than publishing a variety of points of view about the issues at hand, both of Canada's national dailies chose to publish editorials and commentaries advancing their own positions. Meanwhile, Ms. Lim notes, local media in Quebec fed the controversy in the months leading up to the Hérouxville story by sensationalizing "reasonable accommodation" incidents.

Ms. Lim concludes that "genuine dialogue - a necessary condition for democracy - will not occur" in these circumstances and that "the media cannot rest content as a bullhorn for partisan opinion".

Gareth Lewis is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia. His passion for politics has led him to conferences at West Point USMA and to NATO simulations in Washington, DC. He is an avid filmmaker.

In his winning essay, Mr. Lewis writes that blogs are transforming politics, the media and democracy in Canada in a positive way that stimulates the flow of ideas and encourages participation in the political process.

In an era of fewer and bigger mainstream media owners, blogs are a new avenue for otherwise ignored perspectives to reach an audience, according to Mr. Lewis. They also provide new windows on the world, giving any interested person the opportunity to read first hand accounts of day to day life in parts of the world once open only to foreign correspondents working for big media companies.

Mr. Lewis also suggests that blogs are imposing new accountability on journalists whose work is corrected and commented on by blog editors.

Even with their explosive growth, blogs will not replace the mainstream media, according to Mr. Lewis. "Blogs are likely to coexist, infiltrate and supplement traditional media by increasing public debate, civic involvement and strengthening democracy. One can safely bet that the mainstream media will not only survive, but will become more accountable and contribute more to the democratic process than ever before."


White people need to face role in racism, academics say

Racism is alive and well and living in Canada, and it's time white people started talking about it, say academics who are aiming to get that discussion going among the country's educators.

"There is this idea that racism is a U.S. problem. That it doesn't happen here. It does. We are just more polite about it," explains Darren Lund (pictured), an education professor at the University of Calgary.

To encourage that discussion, Prof. Lund and fellow education professor, Paul Carr, have put together a book of essays to be published shortly - Exposing the Great White North: Whiteness, Privilege and Identity in Education in Canada

They also made their case to colleagues this week at the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the huge gathering of academics taking place at the University of Saskatchewan.

Previously, Dr. Lund pointed out that his family is from Denmark, but he is rarely asked where he is really from because of his invisible identity as a white Canadian. However, he knows Canadians of color and those who are what the Canadian government refers to as "visible minority groups." By contrast, the visible minority groups are almost always asked where they are really from, although they could be fourth or fifth generation Canadians.

Assemblée générale annuelle de l'AFFC

L'Assemblée générale annuelle de l'Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne (AFFC) aura lieu le 1er juin, date d'ouverture du Sommet des communautés francophones et acadiennes.

LINK: Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne (AFFC)

Sexually harassed Presbyterian minister on P.E.I. wins major settlement

The Presbyterian Church on Prince Edward Island has been ordered to pay more than $600,000 to a female minister who was hounded from her Island pulpit in a sexual discrimination case that highlights difficulties faced by some women in the clergy.

The P.E.I. Human Rights Commission ordered the Island Presbytery on Friday to reinstate the ministerial licence of Rev. Gael Matheson, 60, who was relieved of her church duties in 1996.

LINK: 570 News

Ontario - First Week Of June Declared Sexual Harassment Awareness Week

The McGuinty government is declaring thefirst week of June as Sexual Harassment Awareness Week to increase awarenessof sexual harassment and to honour the memories of all women who have been victimized.

"Sexual harassment in our society must not be tolerated," said MinisterResponsible for Women's Issues Sandra Pupatello. "With the declaration of this week, let's all dedicate ourselves to preventing sexual harassment in all areas of Ontarians' lives."

Launching the Equality Rules public education campaign, which teaches youth ages eight to 14 about healthy, equal and respectful relationships to help break the cycle of violence before it starts. For more information, visit

Investing in the Neighbours, Friends and Families public education campaign, which provides information to help individuals recognize the signs of abuse and know what action to take. Public service announcements, a website (, brochures, a poster and wallet cards are available as part of the education campaign.

Nobel winners decry lack of women's rights in Middle East

Individually they are impressive; together they are formidable. Six Nobel Peace laureates from around the world - all women - gathered in Dublin yesterday to take part in a major conference on the issue of female empowerment and the advancement of peace in the Middle East.

The group, two of whom are Irish, represent six of the seven living female Nobel laureates. The seventh, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains imprisoned in Burma.

Describing the conference, one of the six, Professor Jody Williams, said: "We looked at the violence against women resulting from the war in Iraq, which has its roots in the oil industry's lust for the reserves in the Middle East and the resulting interests at stake."

LINK: Entire article at The Independent

2026 : The goal: more women in municipal government

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Calgary is taking place at the Calgary TELUSConvention Centre and the Calgary Hyatt Regency. Here are some events of interest to women:

  • Standing Committee Forum on Increasing Women's Participation in Municipal Government

  • Reports on the national campaign to bring more women into municipal government.

  • Committee Chair and Toronto Councillor, Pam McConnell hosts Mayor Melissa Blake of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alta., who will talk about the unique road she took to enter municipal politics and how she faces the challenges and opportunities of a community in the grips of a local economic boom.

LINK: FCM - Media Release
LINK: FCM - Women in Municipal Politics
LINK: FCM - Current Statistics
LINK: FCM - Getting to 30% by 2026
LINK: FCM - How Women-Friendly Is Your City?

Daycare staff get low pay, no respect

A Star investigation published this week uncovered a litany of serious problems in some of Toronto's daycare centres. (Children's Village pictured was not among them).

Experts say problems in Ontario daycares are the result of a child-care crisis in Canada caused by chronic under-funding. A major international study last year ranked Canada at the bottom of a list of 14 industrialized nations when it comes to spending on early childhood education. The study, conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), found Canadian child-care services rely on underpaid workers, high parent fees and small subsidies.

"We're not even in the game," Martha Friendly, a child-care advocate and co-ordinator of the Toronto-based Childcare Research and Resource Unit, said in an earlier interview with the Star.

"We're the lowest spender, which shows how much value we place on it."

"We get no respect here. We are looked at as just babysitters," says Lindsay Linton, 27, an assistant working out of the infants room at Children's Village.

LINK: Toronto Star

Toronto Meeting - June 2 - Role of Women In Cuban Society

A few simple statistics speak for themselves: In Cuba, women make up 46% of the workforce in the state civil sector, 66.1% in the category of technicians and professionals, 48.9% of researchers, 63.3% of university graduates, 56% of doctors and 52.3% of healthcare personnel working on missions abroad. A total of 71% of district attorneys and 36% of parliament members are women

Guest Speakers: Alicia González (pictured), from the International Department of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC) and Alicia Camila Campos Perez, the Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women in the province of Villa Clara, will discuss the gains and advancement of women in Cuban society. The FMC is an NGO, which was established in 1960. Women have been a leading force in the Cuban revolutionary process.

Sponsored by: Socialist Action - U of T Club
Meeting Information: Saturday, June 2nd 2:30 PM @ 252 Bloor St. W., OISE, Room #2-212(at the St. George subway station)

LINK: Working TV - Women In The Cuban Revolution