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

November 25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 25 commemorates the 1960 murders of the Mirabel sisters in the
Dominican Republic. Worldwide it also marks the beginning of 16 Days of
Activism against Gender Violence, including Canada's National Day of
Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6.


Wednesday, November 21

Sexual Harassment of ‘Uppity' Women:

A recent research study from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto finds that sexual harassment is a means of punishing women who blur gender distinctions.

Links: “The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women,” by Jennifer L. Berdahl, University of Toronto, Journal of Applied Psychology, 2007, Vol. 92, No. 2, 425–437 (13 pages, PDF ); “The high price of gender blurring; 'Masculine' women more likely to be sexually harassed,” Jennifer Newman And Darryl Grigg, CanWest News Service, November 7, 2007.

Independent, assertive women with leadership qualities are often a company's top performers. That's the good news. The bad news, according to recent research, is women with these traits are more likely to be sexually harassed.

And of all the difficulties faced by women who take leadership positions or roles, sexual harassment -- sexual comments, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion -- is the most distressing, taking a harder toll on morale than office gossip or snide comments.

That's because the personality traits of independence, assertiveness and leadership that are considered successful in the business world are often viewed as "masculine" characteristics.
Conversely, traits such as being warm, modest and deferential, are thought of as "feminine" and generally not associated with leadership and assertiveness -- traits commonly paired with success in people's minds.

A recent research study found that sexual harassment is motivated by a wish to punish women who blur gender distinctions. Women coming up through the ranks or entering a traditionally male work environment may threaten some men's sense of security and status. The dynamic is similar to harassment of minorities who threaten a majority group's dominant position in the workplace.

Jennifer Berdahl, at the Rot-man School of Management at the University of Toronto, found that women who behaved independently and assertively and spoke out were more likely to be sexually harassed than women who fit feminine ideals of deference, modesty and warmth. Ms. Berdahl noted this was especially true in male-dominated workplaces.

In her study of 238 employees representing manufacturing plants and community service centres, the researcher found that in male-dominated workplaces, women who are "masculine" -- highly assertive, independent and dominant, or "androgynous" and who balance assertion and independence with warmth and humility -- experienced more than twice as much harassment as women who tend to meet feminine ideals of deference, caregiving and modesty. As well, these masculine and androgynous women experienced eight times as much harassment as men.

Climate Change is Far From Gender Neutral

On September 21, 2007, The Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL), the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America organized a high-level roundtable entitled "How a Changing Climate Impacts Women" at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations. The roundtable was a landmark event, one of the first high-level sessions to focus on the linkages between gender equality and climate change.

The roundtable recognized that while there are no references to gender in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate change is far from gender neutral.

Participants shared experiences from Honduras, Senegal, Uganda, Thailand, Suriname, and the US (New Orleans) showing the gender dimensions of climate change and how women's participation is critical to developing solutions. The roundtable was a call to action, recognizing that gender equality is a critical component of responses to climate change at all levels of planning and decision-making.

Following the success of this event, the roundtable organizers are engaged in these next steps:

  • The official report of the roundtable will be published in preparation for the UNFCCC COP-13 in December 2007.

  • WEDO is organizing a workshop on "Adaptation and Gender Equality: Experiences from the South" in partnership with Heinrich Böll Foundation, UNDP, and ActionAid International, at COP-13 on December 10 at 8pm. The workshop is connected to WEDO's advocacy campaign in developing countries to incorporate a gender perspective in national adaptation platforms.

  • The Council of Women World Leaders is organizing the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum and the White House Project. The Summit, which incorporates the topic of climate change, aims to enhance the effectiveness of women's leadership on security concerns to illustrate a more integrated approach to critical issues of international security.

  • Heinrich Böll Foundation is organizing a range of events at COP-13, including a side event on a programmatic CDM for Renewable Energies (in cooperation with Germanwatch); an event on "Greenhouse Development Rights" (with EcoEquity & Christian Aid); the "African Climate Appeal"; "Nuclear Energy: Myth and Reality"; and "Human Rights and Climate Change" organized by Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

The outcomes of the roundtable-including the summary report with speaker interventions, policy recommendations and endorsements, and participant list, as well as media coverage, audio interviews with Mary Robinson and Gro Brundtland, and photo gallery-are now available on the websites listed below.

Women's Environment and Development Organization ;
Council of Women World Leaders
Heinrich Böll Foundation

Changing the Climate: Why Women's Perspectives Matter
This resource draws the links between gender and climate change and lays out why women need to be at the center of the climate change debate and policymaking. A must-read for activists, academics and policymakers. Find out more

Wednesday Digest

EI short-changes women, study suggests: Canadian women are being unfairly short-changed by the country's Employment Insurance system, which was made more restrictive a decade ago and now boasts a multibillion-dollar surplus, a study concludes.The study for the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, to be released today, finds the qualification requirements for EI have left many women who lose their jobs out of pocket despite having paid their fair share of premiums.

NDP to set aside ridings for women, minorities in 2009 provincial election: The NDP have kick-started their election campaign with a pledge to put more women and minorities into the B.C. legislature.Although the next provincial election isn’t until 2009, NDP Leader Carole James said the enthusiasm that came out of the party’s weekend convention in Vancouver shows they are ready for a fight with the governing Liberals.

Social services in trouble: CUPE delegates meet: Social service workers from across thecountry will meet in Ottawa for three days this week to plan strategies forimproving public services and protecting their working conditions. Confrontedwith chronic underfunding, they will join forces to make their voices heardand to remind people that they offer vital services to children and othervulnerable persons. Françoise David, a feminist, environmentalist and social justiceactivist, and Linda Duxbury, a professor at Carleton University's businessschool, will address the delegates.

CBC wants more women: It's part of a strategy that Kirstine Layfield, CBC-TV's executive director of network programming, said will "diversify" the CBC audience, which has traditionally skewed male because of the public broadcaster's emphasis on sports and news programming.

Pay equity still voluntary in N.B. and most other jurisdictions: When New Brunswick university students held a bake sale where sweets were offered at $1 apiece to men and 80 cents to women, the organizers were trying to upset people."It was supposed to offend people because it is discrimination based on gender. So is pay inequity," said an organizer.

Program to help abused women on P.E.I.: Under the Safety Circles program, a network of police, counsellors, neighbours, employers and family work with women toward keeping them safe and in more in control of their situation

Parliament supports historic NDP Child Care Act: Following years of false starts, empty promises, and inaction from Liberal and Conservative governments, Parliament took a historic step and voted to support working and middle-class families by moving the NDP’s Early Learning and Child Care Act to third reading. “Today, all opposition parties joined with us to move one step closer to building the foundation for a truly national, non-profit, affordable and high-quality child care program,” said NDP MP Denise Savoie (Victoria).

A new United Nations report on the plight of children confirms what many Canadians already know – the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is content to let children fend for themselves, Liberal Social Development Critic Ruby Dhalla said today.

Advocates mark International Day of the Child with proclamations against spread of "big box" child care: "Reports from Australia highlight high parent fees, poor staff wages andworking conditions and examples of child neglect. A study by The AustraliaInstitute showed poorer staff to child ratios, insufficient food and less timefor children compared to community child care programs", says MornaBallantyne, coordinator of Code Blue for Child Care.

Helping her community, one member at a time: A prominent member of the Chemainus First Nation, Grace Elliott-Nielsen was a veteran social worker before deciding to devote her life to the needs of the native community through Nanaimo's Tillicum Haus Native Friendship Centre, where she has been executive director for 22 years

Friday, November 16

Action Needed in support of Jordan's Principle

On November 7 - F-email Fightback posted about Jordan's Principle - an anonymous poster provided the update below:

Please note that a private members motion in support of Jordan's Principle is expected to pass unanimously through the House of Commons on December 12, 2007.

This motion, although encouraging, does not bind the federal government to implement Jordan's Principle and sadly none of the provinces and territories have made any substantial moves to adopt and implement Jordan's Principle.

Your help is urgently needed - please do send letters to the Ministers of Health (Provincial and federal) and take a moment to go on line to sign the joint declaration in support of Jordan's Principle at - individuals and organizations can register

Canadian Medical Association Journal Editorial supports Jordan's Principle - Read the Editorial Online

Five Ways to Make a Difference:
  1. Register your individual or organizational support for Jordan's Principle which is a child first principle to resolving inter governmental jurisdictional disputes.
  2. Help reshape the child welfare system so that it better supports Aboriginal children, youth and families by endorsing the Reconciliation in Child Welfare: Touchstones of hope for Indigenous children and youth.
  3. Join Amnesty International Canada in putting an end to inequitable child welfare funding for First Nations children
  4. Join us in supporting the Many Hands One Dream principles to guide improvements to Aboriginal health care resulting in healthier Aboriginal children and young people.
  5. Learn how to respectfully engage young people in your organization's work by registering your support for the Declaration of Accountability on the Ethical Engagement of Young People and Adults in Canadian Organizations.

Thursday, November 15

Dove (D)evolution?

Business Week writes: "The beauty company says it's helping improve young women's self-esteem, but its much-lauded ad campaign may not be sending the right message." The idea here is that the commercials are still encouraging us to judge the girls.

Truly empowered girls (and yes, this time we're talking about young females) should be allowed to want to change parts of themselves and you're not allowed to tsk your tongue or accused them of being fashion victims just because they want their appearance to represent them differently. It's like negative peer pressure versus actually giving girls a positive and constructive message.


This opinion is held by The Girls of 3iYing - members of the strategic think tank that helps mass-scale brands become more relevant to new millenium girls. Founded by Heidi Dangelmaier, 3iying has contributed to everything from ground floor product development, branding, commercial storybarding, to interactive application design.

It smells like teen marketing...

Heidi writes: "But could Dove have done it better? Yes, by not reinforcing the age-old bias that says girls are weak."

This is so reminiscent of the Harper / Oda doublespeak on women's equality in Canada that preceded the erosion of child care, the court challenges program, women's advocacy, lobbying and research

Getting young women to assist the capitalists with branding and marketing empowering!!


Want more info on Heidi's "empowered girls"? Check out their Flip It is a series of videos like:

Who's to blame for rape?
Are you saying pregnancy is ugly?
What girl wouldn't enjoy a guy staring at her boobs?
Are you using sex to sell to 10-year-olds?
We only wash our hair to impress our ex
Laptops- just make it pink and leave it on the beach
and last but certainly NOT least: we don't want to subject our boyfriends to it either.

Women and Ontarioins are twits, says Sun columnist?

In a Sun Media column by Greg Weston on the recent SES poll results Weston decides to lash-out. The numbers were: Harper is well out in front at 37 per cent, Layton 17 per cent, Dion 13 per cent with the horserace numbers showing a virtual tie, at Cons 35 per cent, Libs 34 per cent, NDP 17 per cent.

Poor Greg is confused. What to do Greg? First target?

Women, who are more likely to vote Liberal:
If it were up to Canadian women, the Liberals would form a minority government and Dion would be the next prime minister.
BCer writes: "Go figure. Yeah Greg, women, tell me about it. But did you ever consider, perhaps the problem isn’t with women, but that the Conservatives haven’t been speaking to issues of importance to women? Nah, that can’t be it. It’s the women’s fault."

Studies show women less likely to be treated in intensive care

Research suggests women are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to treatment in intensive care units.

Dr. Donna Stewart, a university professor and chair of women's health at the University Health Network in Toronto and at the University of Toronto, said several studies, including one Wednesday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, show there was a wide disparity.

"One is really struck by a huge disparity between the care that women and men are getting for critical illnesses and this is in keeping with many other studies that have been done in the past," Stewart said Thursday

LINK: Canadian Press

Northern women’s homelessness shames Canada

Reports of homeless women having to sleep with rotting garbage in order to keep warm during Arctic winters shames Canada, and immediate action must be taken, four NDP MPs said today.

On November 14th, a report called “You Just Blink and It Can Happen: A Study of Women's Homelessness North of 60” details realities of homeless women or women at risk of becoming homeless living in Canada’s Northern Territories. For the report, women from the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut shared their stories and insights, and called for action to end what is clearly an intolerable situation.

"The revelations in this report are difficult to take,” said NDP Northern Development Critic, Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic). “They clearly show the need for action on providing more affordable housing in the North. Unfortunately, Stephen Harper believes tax breaks to big business, announced in the recent mini-budget, are more important than addressing the social problems suffered by Northern women.”

LINK: YWCAYellowknife
LINK: CBC and here

Food Bank Use Down Across The Country, But Up In Alberta

Alberta may be leading the nation in wealth, but an annual survey shows that the province is falling behind the rest when it comes to ensuring families can afford to put food on the table. According to HungerCount 2007, put out by the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB), Alberta was the only province in the nation that did not see an overall decrease in food bank use from 2006.

Now in its 19th year, the survey collects data from food banks and emergency food programs across the country, making recommendations to government on how to achieve a hunger-free Canada.

According to the report, 720 000 people used a food bank in Canada this past March—a number that represents 2.2 per cent of the population. Data is collected during March because it is a month without predictable high or low patterns of use.

FULL STORY: Vue Weekly

For Many Women, Alberta's Boom a Bust

Driven by the tar sands, Alberta's white-hot economy continues to make headlines. But the gendered repercussions of the province's boom are often neglected, understated, or altogether denied.

In the case of the tar sands, women have often been discouraged from pursuing the very resources and skills necessary to capitalize on the booming industry.

This is due in part to many female workers' experiences with sexual harassment, gender discrimination and unequal wages. Sixteen years ago, Mobil Oil's first female landman, Delorie Walsh, submitted a claim of gender discrimination, a poisoned work environment and unequal pay. She was finally compensated in October 2007.

Those benefiting most from the oil and gas workforce are male. For example, current male/female ratios are 79 to 21 per cent for geoscientists and 96 to 4 per cent for trades.

Women tend to be more susceptible to losing their homes due to abuse or conflict with a spouse or caretaker upon whom they are financially dependent. Because women are more likely to have children to look after, and are less likely to feel safe on the street or in shelters where men are also present, many return to abusive relationships when there is no alternative shelter available.

FULL STORY: The Dominion

Big box buying spree adds urgency to national child care debate

With the Campbell Liberals refusing to stop the spread of big box child care across British Columbia, parents and child care activists are looking for action. Australian multinational child care corporation ABC Learning is seeking to expand into Canada by purchasing child care centres, starting in BritishColumbia, Ontario and Alberta. CUPE President Paul Moist and NDP child care critic Olivia Chow will hold a news conference calling on the federal and provincial governments to stop moving down this dangerous path and support a national not-for-profit child care program.

The Belleville Intelligencer wants us to believe that there is nothing to fear? Oh yes there is.....a looming presence on the horizon in Canada is a corporate day-are centres called 123 Busy Beavers that has a plan to buy existing commercial day care providers and, using its company model and resources, operate them as a chain across Canada. It has sent more than shudders through the ranks of proponents of government-run, non-profit day care as they see the emergence of 123 Busy Beavers as a threat. The operator of a local Belleville non-profit centre told The Intelligencer she is extremely concerned about having a large conglomerate taking over the child care sector in a community. "Having a large chain, you get a

Wednesday, November 14

Olivia's Adventures in The Land Of Pay Equity

The NB Coalition for Pay Equity has a popular new fairytale PowerPoint show being emailed around ("If you break the chain, you’ll be upholding injustice!”), Olivia’s Adventures In the Land of Pay Inequity. Olivia came to a far away land called New Brunswick to find work. She meets Suzanne, a childcare educator, and learns that Suzanne earns $8.20/hr. Olivia is stunned, especially when she also learns that a store clerk for NB Liquor earns $16.24. When she is told the only thing for these women to do is to find better paying jobs, she wisely replies, “But who’s going to take care of the children if all the educators quit?” Olivia returned to her country shortly after.

”As published in NB Women’s News”
LINK: View PowerPoint

What happens when you stop trying? Gender Equality drops a few notches......

Since last year, Canada has slipped 4 spots to 18th place in the world in providing gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum annual study ranking 128 countries. Sweden topped the list (though Swedish women still earn 36% less than men doing similar work), then Norway, Finland, Iceland and New Zealand. “While no country has yet achieved gender equality, Sweden, Norway and Finland have all closed over 80% of the gender gap.”

The U.S. was 31st, down 8 places because the pay gap widened and the percentage of legislators, senior officials etc fell. Pakistan, Chad and Yemen were at the bottom. In all but 2 countries (Slovak Republic and Poland) there was a net improvement in scores since 2000 (since the first such annual study). 7 countries closed their gaps by over 10% of the values in 2000: Belgium, Costa Rica, Ireland, Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden.

Perfect equality was a score of 1.0. Canada achieved 0.72, with almost perfect marks in education, health and survival, but 0.74 on economic participation /opportunity (labour force participation, wage equality between women and men for similar work, estimated female earned income over male value, female legislators, senior officials, manager, professional and technical workers) and 0.159 on political empowerment (women are 21% of MPs). Canadian women earn 28% less than men doing similar work.

”As published in NB Women’s News”.

Canada's dismal record in early education child care

Here's a start to determining how Canada stacks up against other developed countries in the world when it comes to early education child care. In a study of 14 countries by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we rank dead last.

Canada spends 0.25 per cent of its gross domestic product on early education child care, which means for children under age 6. Denmark tops the list, spending two per cent of its GDP on early education child care.

The list looks like this:
  1. Denmark
  2. Sweden
  3. Norway
  4. Finland
  5. France
  6. Hungary
  7. Austria
  8. The U.K.
  9. The U.S.
  10. The Netherlands
  11. Germany
  12. Italy
  13. Australia
  14. Canada

LINK: Full Story CBC News

Monday, November 12

If only I was making this crap up? ....Monopoly for Girls

This is Monopoly like you have never seen it - dressed up in pink and all about things girls love! Buy boutiques and malls, go on a shopping spree, pay your cell phone bill, and get text and instant messages. You and your friends will adore the funky tokens, cool buildings, and cute illustrations. Best of all, the game is stored in a beautiful keepsake box which doubles as a jewelry box.

Fast Eddy acquires 15 child care centres in BC

"Woman at Mile 0" writes "I was deeply saddened to learn that the for-profit, Australian-based ABC and 123 Early Learning conglomerate (renamed 123 Busy Beavers for expansion purposes in Canada) and headed by fast Eddy Groves, has acquired at least 15 child child care centres in Canada with the majority located in BC.

News Round-up

Forty per cent of recent Canadian homicides involve violence by family members or lovers. But the federal government seems more interested in addressing gang violence, reports Kate Jaimet.

Bev Oda at the Montreal Millennium Summit says: "Canada takes its responsibilities to children very seriously." Well then, perhaps you could explain why a 2005 UNICEF study on child poverty in rich countries ranked Canada only 19th out of 26. ?

Governor General Michaëlle Jean has a blog, and she particularly tags some of her posts as pertaining to women. Check it out at: .

The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity says the Liberal government should introduce legislation to ensure women are paid the same as men for work of equal value.

Sweden is pretty progressive, they even have a Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK). So how is it then that Sweden's new female equality ombudsman will be paid less than male predecessor? Anne-Marie Bergström's annual wage falls some 17 percent short of the pay package awarded to Claes Borgström for the same job. Huh?

Graphic Link: 2007 Purple Ribbon Campaign

Verner announces 60 projects will receive $8 million

Minister Verner announced on October 11 that 60 projects will Minister Verner announced on October 11 that 60 projects will receive funding totalling $8 million through the Women's Program of Status of Women Canada. The projects will have an impact on 260,000 women and girls across Canada.

LINK: NewsWire

An average $200-a-year individual tax cut won’t even buy a coffee a day. But collectively....?

What is becoming increasingly clear is that Canada’s slightly used Conservative government has no interest in 'using tax cut money collectively to do good'. They are much too busy managing the public relations of a war, shutting out the media and playing politics.

And while they play politics — fencing with each other over who is the sharpest politician in the lot — another child’s sense of wonder is dimmed by poverty because government chose tax cuts over action.

And that is the whole problem. We have a federal government that doesn’t believe in government, and so most days are spent dismantling and diminishing government as a force of change.

FULL STORY: Lana Payne

Sunday, November 11

more on fairytales....

Once upon a Friday, fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes said feminist writers are crafting new tales to replace traditional children's bedtime stories.

Jack Zipes presented his talk, "And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After: The Feminist Fairy Tale and Its Consequences" in the Winship Drama Building.

The feminist movement made its way into fairy tale writing between 1979 and 1983, Zipes said. He said that during this period, male and female writers began an important dialogue about what constituted a fairy tale. As a reaction to sexist, racist and classist leanings of canonical tales, feminist writers began to subvert the older stories and create new ones, Zipes said.

LINK:Feminist writers remake the fairy tale.

Fairy tale scholar Vladimir Propp identified over 30 different constants in the fairy tale structure. Jack Zipes summarizes these constants in his book, "Creative Storytelling: Building Community, Changing Lives"

Study: Sexist Humor Is No Joke.....

Jokes about female drivers and dumb blondes may be told in good fun, but they can promote discrimination against women, researchers say.

Hmmmmm....Could It be the Conservatives tell too many sexist jokes??

Researchers found: "..... that, upon exposure to sexist humor, men higher in sexism discriminated against women by allocating larger funding cuts to a women’s organization than they did to other organizations," Ford said.

"We also found that, in the presence of sexist humor, participants believed the other participants would approve of the funding cuts to women’s organizations," he said. "We believe this shows that humorous disparagement creates the perception of a shared standard of tolerance of discrimination that may guide behavior when people believe others feel the same way."

LINK: LiveScience
LINK: Women Enjoy Humor More, Study Suggests
LINK: Study: Humor Makes Us Hopeful

Feminist reactions to sexist email jokes:

  • First, the feminist reader may simply critically reject these jokes – for example, by deleting them and/or asking the person who forwarded them not to do so again.
  • Secondly, she may engage in ‘resistant reading’: she may recognize and negatively evaluate the sexist discourse, thus resist and contest the jokes’ presuppositions, but continue to read, analytically. She may position herself as an ‘overhearer’ of a text addressed to men, in order to resist interpellation through identifying with a subject position of ‘men’, or of ‘women’.
  • Thirdly, she may critically enjoy the text. For example, as suggested above, she may co-construct the text’s ironic potential, ‘double discourse’ the text, and take critical intellectual pleasure in that. “Jokes at the expense of others can also intersect in complex ways with those at one’s own expense” holds very true. But if this is the case, then we can also see the jokes as being (at least in part) not about women at all, but rather about the writers and (male) consumers of the jokes – suggesting a fourth reading.
  • This fourth reading is to ‘reclaim’ the jokes, from a feminist perspective. Cognitively more complex, but perhaps ultimately more satisfying, is to ‘refocalise’ (ironicise?) the jokes for ourselves and take the woman’s perspective, moving the ‘object’ of the joke (women) to subject position and make the original focalisers, men, the object.

This allows us to see humour in the fact that these tired old stereotypes are still in circulation and that some people still enjoy them: “Nice spoofs – but how silly these jokes and their producers and the consumers who unthinkingly find their presuppositions funny are!”

Sexism and the games we play

This post is inspired by a Salon article on regressive advertising for toys:" the fact that while the girl is shown meticulously rearranging her living room furniture (as a reader pointed out, it's great training for the day when she can shop for her own décor in Pottery Barn), the boy is deliberately messing up the living room as his mother smiles in the background with a look that all but says, "Boys will be boys!" "

Board Games
Note where the women are while them men play battleship? (via pandagon and don’t forget to hat-tip The Sneeze for originally coming up with that fabulous Battleship image)

Then there's the Ouija Board ad from 1968

Park and Shop - released in 1960 by Milton Bradley. It was billed as “The Nation’s Traffic Game Sensation,” the object of which was to “drive your car from your home to the nearest Park & Shop parking lot, park your car, then move your pedestrian marker to all the stops on your shopping list.” There really wasn’t that much more to it, which is perhaps why it was never re-released.

Also check out: Revisiting sexist '60s board games.

Computer Games

Sexism in videogames may not be the most crucial issue on the top of the feminist agenda, but it’s not entirely unimportant, either. And to be told that there are areas of our culture that should be magically exempted from feminist critiques is a request that smacks of desperation according to The Feminist Gamers blog.

TV Games

Just look at NBC's newest hit, "Deal or No Deal," which will air its 100th show during sweeps. There are 25 women on the show, but they're more like wallpaper.

Scary is the way women are portrayed in reality TV: in the big-budget and intensely popular shows such as "Trading Spouses," "The Bachelor," "America's Next Top Model" and "Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll."

Friday, November 9

Canada’s New Democratic Party Marks 40 Years of Fighting for LGBT Rights

Forty years ago this month, Canada’s New Democratic Party took a historic stand for equality and justice.

On Nov. 7, 1967, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal of George Everett Klippert, who had been condemned to indefinite imprisonment for consensual sexual relations with other men. The next day, Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the NDP, rose in the House of Commons and called for homosexuality to be decriminalized.

Since then, the NDP has never ceased to lead the pack in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. New Democrats succeeded in banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, tirelessly worked for equal marriage and are fighting today for international LGBT rights and for an end to discrimination based on gender identity.
"Canada has led the world in equality and participation of gay and lesbian citizens. But challenges remain. Transsexual and transgender Canadians need full human rights protections, and LGBTT people in Canada and around the world suffer prejudice and discrimination, even to the point of violence and death. Our work is not yet done.”


The University of Waterloo recently held an iKickback seminar. Many of the basic moves can be found on YouTube

Thursday, November 8

Whitehorse women to be consulted about how to improve housing

The Yukon government will start work aimed at improving housing for women in the territory, it was announced Tuesday.

Elaine Taylor, the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, said the initiative will focus on increasing access to affordable and secure housing for women and children in need and victims of violence

LINK: Whitehorse Star

Women’s problems never change, says Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women (PACSW)

Newfoundland and Labrador: Despite the advances in women’s equality, Leslie MacLeod says the problems women face in their everyday lives are the same ones they faced 40 and 50 years ago: Childcare, work, housing, justice, and discrimination.

LINK: The Muse

Wednesday, November 7

'Feminist' - if you look it up in the dictionary.....

'Feminist, if you look it up in the dictionary, means 'people who believe women should have rights and opportunities equal to men.' I think it's very telling that there is one word in the language that means women are equal and we won't say it. We can't say it and we don't identify with it.'

Oda ignored officials on changes to women's agency....Verner's no better!

Conservative minister Bev Oda ignored the advice of her departmental officials last year when she changed the objectives and funding criteria for Status of Women Canada's main granting program, changes that included deleting references to the word equality.

Only a few months before the Tories transformed the terms, conditions and objectives of the Women's Program, former Status of Women co-ordinator Florence Ievers recommended to Oda that they stay exactly the same. Her memo to Oda was obtained by The Canadian Press through Access to Information legislation. Oda has since been replaced in the portfolio by Josee Verner.

"Maintain the current WP (Women's Program) mandate, objectives and areas of focus," Ievers wrote in June 2006, as part of a scheduled review of the terms and conditions.

Ievers also noted that her recommendations be carried out "within existing resource levels."

During the same time period of government deliberations on the program, an online campaign had been started by a number of social conservatives, including REAL Women of Canada, to axe Status of Women Canada altogether.

By September, the Tories had cut $5 million from the agency's administrative budget and had moved to rewrite the mandate of the Women's Program, a funding envelope that distributes money to organizations across the country.

The word "equality" disappeared from all literature, and groups that did advocacy or research work on women's issues were no longer eligible to receive cash.

The four previous objectives of the Women's Program, which included helping women's organizations get involved in the public policy process and increasing public awareness of women's equality, were replaced with a single line: "To achieve the full participation of women in the economic, social and cultural life of Canada."

For the first time, for-profit organizations also became eligible for funding. None of the changes was recommended to Oda by officials in their memo.

Verner emphasized in an interview Wednesday that her government wants to see funding go to projects that provide direct services to women.

"The officials offer advice, not direction, and what we decided to do was to offer to every woman a practical support for concrete results for them," Verner said.

In the past several months, a number of women's organizations, including the National Association of Women and the Law and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, have closed their doors or laid off staff because their core funding dried up. They argue that without their advocacy work over the decades, many legal gains made by women would not have been achieved.

"Instead of (Oda) listening to the people who knew what they were talking about, she was driven by this anti-equality ideology of the governing party, and clearly her marching orders were contrary to the best interests of the women of this country," said NDP Status of Women critic Irene Mathyssen

Both Oda and Verner have explained that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms already guarantees women's equality, therefore it was unnecessary to have it spelled out in the agency's objectives, and terms and conditions.

The department felt differently.

"The Women's Program remains relevant in the current context where considerable work remains to be done to advance women's equality and where women's groups and their issues have become increasingly diverse and strategies complex," Ievers wrote in the memo, referring to an evaluation of the program that had been undertaken.

The government has faced stiff opposition to the changes at Status of Women from all opposition parties and women's groups across the country. In the last federal budget, the Conservatives announced they would put $10 million more into the Women's Program, effectively increasing the agency's total budget by $5 million.

"What we decided to do is to take money from the bureaucracy, and direct the money towards Canadian women for projects that can change their lives," said Verner.
Verner pointed out that the government has initiated a mentoring program for aboriginal women, one to combat violence against young women and girls, and another to protect women with intellectual challenges.