status of women - halved

yesterday was crazy. most everyone - including well-placed insiders - were stunned by the announcements to slash swc's budget in half and to annihilate the brilliant court challenges program.

slick move, harper et al. cut at the knees an agency whose budget hardly registers as a blip on the federal funding radar but whose incapacitation sends a resounding and deliberate message to your support base. it's not like joe and jill voter know very much about the department. your attack is stealth, strategic. the women's movement is concerned, but hardly in a position to mobilize against your action what with you preserving the budget for the program that funds us - for now. clever.

well, by now it should be clear to everyone that you are intending to send us to the polls right quickly. baby step by baby step, seems you're using the fall session to lay the groundwork for a campaign that will demand voters give you a majority so that you can wreak less subtle damage.

here's a little something we wrote yesterday about your quiet but tacit retreat from federal involvement in ensuring equality in canada. well actually, you've flipped the bird to equality, period.


First they came for childcare. Then they came for same-sex marriage. Then they came for gun control. And now, it appears they have come for women’s equality.

Today’s announcement of the federal government’s 5 million dollar cut to Status of Women Canada (SWC) is a serious attack on the lone department engaged in the development of gender policy, gendered budget analysis, as well as international and inter-governmental matters as they relate to gender. SWC is home to the Women’s Program which funds organizations that monitor and work to uphold Canada’s accountability to the principles of equality enshrined in the Charter and in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

This announcement follows last week’s 11th hour restitution of federal funding to some national women’s organizations, and appears to be the latest cat-and-mouse game being played with the values held by a majority of Canadians.

We now see the government’s real priorities revealed.

The strength and integrity of SWC is integral to the efforts of organizations that work to protect universal women’s rights. We do work such as this because while crucial legal reforms that grant equality to women in Canada have been accomplished, the substance of daily life for many women fails to live up to the promise that formal structures indicate.

Most Canadians are proud of our free society of equals. But those at the front line who work with women every single day – in shelters, job centres, food banks, children’s services, housing agencies, and support groups across the country – bear witness to the failure of this promise daily.

The hundreds of women who die at the hands of their male partners each year and thousands more who flee their homes in fear for their and their children’s lives are stark evidence that formal equality, while necessary, is hardly sufficient in creating the conditions of true equality for women and girls. This gap between real-life experience and legal equality is the basis for much of the work undertaken by women’s groups in Canada and SWC, who supports it. And until now, they were together supported at the bargain-basement cost of $24 million federal dollars a year (compared to the $15 billion announced by Harper in June for military vehicles over the next few years).

These cuts by the federal government give us no choice but to ask some serious questions before we next go to the polls:

During an era of record federal surpluses, how come we are at depression levels of financing for social investment?

How is it that a so-called “fiscally responsible” government could take on a 45 billion dollar surplus, yet in a few short months, seems poised to present a bare cupboard for our social values?

At a time when fatal violence against women in their own homes shocks Canadians at their TV sets each night, our patchwork of excellent but under-funded shelters is deemed adequate enough?

Since when is a five dollar a day baby bonus somehow plausible as universal quality childcare?

Is pay equity really such an archaic notion because “a girl can do anything a boy can do” while employed women still make 71 cents to the male dollar?

When four out of five sexual assaults against minors is committed against a girl, why is it that anyone calling for social change is said to be behaving like a “victim”?

We should all be concerned about gutting the only institution set up to assist us in answering these questions. Surely none of us want to wake up to find there is no one left to fight for the Canada we all want to live in.

- 30 -


Blogger Red Jenny said...

Nice post.

3:45 p.m.  
Blogger Olaf said...

Hi there,

I have been browsing through the progressive bloggers responses to the '5 things...' campaign. I have writen what I believe to be a relatively thoughtful opposition to the SWC program, and although I'm conservative, I'm generally an openminded person looking for a reasonable debate on the matter.

I am trying to get as many comments as possible from progressive bloggers, largely for my own edification, and am therefore shamelessly providing a link on progressive bloggers sites to my post. Please consider checking it out, and voicing any objections to my position that you may have.


8:26 p.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home