Thursday, December 27

Benazir Bhutto - 21 June 1953 to 27 December 2007

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

Friday, December 21

I Knew I Could Do This Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information

Read the full report at

With thanks to my nominator......

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

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

Best Overall Dipper Blog
Accidental Deliberations
La Revue Gauche

Winner: Accidental Deliberations, Best Overall Blog

Best Feminist Dipper Blog
Idealistic Pragmatist
F-email Fightback

Winner: Politics’n'Poetry, Best Feminist Blog

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

Winner: La Revue Gauche, Best Labour Blog

Best Partisan Dipper Blog
Accidental Deliberations
Northern BC Dipper

Winner: Buckdog, Best Partisan Blog

Best Radical Dipper Blog
La Revue Gauche
Red Menace

Winner: Paulitics, Best Radical Blog

Thursday, December 20

PIVOT - fighters for social justice


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

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

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

Sex work is Work

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

Vancouver's pre-Olympic housing crisis

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

He speaks about Vancouver's pre-Olympic housing crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on the August conference, contact Anderson at

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

Wednesday, December 19

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

The Stonehaven Statement: A Feminist Anti-Nuclear Gathering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16

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

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


From Our Website (embedded Youtube player)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: MarketWire

Faces of Hope

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

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

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

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

LINK: Prince George Citizen

Thursday, December 13

Laval plagued by high proportion of women in distress

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

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

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

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

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

The portrait

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

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

Fernande Ménard

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

LINK: Courier Laval

Quebec group calls for workforce diversity summit

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

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

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

Low Income Women's Group Goes Under

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11

MP calls for expanded hate-crime laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 9

Write-a-thon - all day Monday December 10

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

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

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

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

Rabble Links


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


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


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


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


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


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

Saturday, December 8

'Women Who Light the Dark'

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

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

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

Friday, December 7

Fourth Annual Gathering of Women in Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAMELA CROSS--Violence rooted in inequality

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

And, each year, I become angrier.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Showing their colours

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

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

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

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

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

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

FULL STORY: Nova Scotia News

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

(Daily News/Andre Forget)

A table was set for 14 who will never attend

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6

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

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

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

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

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

December 6 - Remember

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

Sunday, December 2

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

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

Study: Women say they have to work harder

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 1

Get Creative - Feminist PostSecret

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

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Women's Prisons - on track for tragedy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FULL STORY: The Record