SK women speak on SWC changes

Following is PATHS’ submission to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. The lines that stand out for me: To state, however, that we can stop our advocacy, our education, our lobbying and our research now is not defensible. There continues to be inequity in our society between women and men. As long as power imbalances are a part of the dynamics of our societies, we will have inequities.

The full statement:

PATHS, The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, is an organization which serves to link shelters, and other organizations which provide services to abused women, in our province. The changes to the mandate of the Status of Women Canada are not consistent with the work we have done over the years. We conduct research, educate the public and professionals, and develop policies which support women who have experienced violence. We have been funded to do this work by the Status of Women Canada since our inception in 1984.

To say that in 22 years of funding nothing has changed would not be an argument in favour of maintaining or increasing financial support to women’s organizations. It is important to acknowledge our successes. Attitudes, opinions and understandings of domestic violence have changed. To state, however, that we can stop our advocacy, our education, our lobbying and our research now is not defensible. There continues to be inequity in our society between women and men. As long as power imbalances are a part of the dynamics of our societies, we will have inequities. Although we have made advances, these inequalities are still a part of women’s circumstances. Women earn 71% of what men earn. Women continue to experience severe violence at the hands of men. In Saskatchewan, Aboriginal women are particularly disadvantaged, being more likely to live in poverty and comprising 74% of our shelter population. Women occupy only 20.8% of the seats in the House of Commons.

A society that strives for fairness will continually criticize these imbalances and find ways to redress them. A socially responsible government will facilitate these struggles by creating spaces for discourse among all groups. It falls upon government to ensure that everyone can participate in these discussions, and in proposing solutions. Civil society relies on the financial support of government to do this. When governments do not provide the resources for civil society to speak out, then only the business class and government will be heard. These sectors have access to funds which will ensure that their views alone dominate the formulation of policy.

It is now more important than ever for people with diverse opinions to find places to come together. We must engage in creative dialogue that results in solutions which are grounded not only in the principles of equity, but in environmental sustainability. The changes to the mandate of the Status of Women Canada take us in the opposite direction of where we need to go. Government should do more than merely continue to fund advocacy, lobbying and research. It should set agendas which frame the discussion around issues for the 21st century. The environment and social and economic equality must be discussed in tandem. In this time of extreme global disparities and environmental destruction, this type of policy direction and leadership is not only required morally, it is essential for our survival.

————
Diane Delaney
Coordinator
Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan
1940 McIntyre Street
Regina, SK S4P 2R3
(306) 522-3515 Tel

(306) 522-0830 Fax

paths@sasktel.netVisit our website at www.abusehelplines.org
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