To hear Stephen Harper tell the story his government has increased funding for women and women’s programs. Here is the whole story, groups who lobby, advocate or challenge the status quo will have their funding cut. Maybe Prime Minister Harper thinks he can silence women by trying to silence their advocates.
Status of Women Canada was responsible for promoting women’s equality. They did this in many ways including providing funding to different women’s groups across Canada. Last year the Harper Conservatives slashed the Status of Women’s mandate – by removing references to equality, advocacy and feminism. The highly respected National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) has had its funding from Status of Women cut. NAWL has informed women’s groups that it will close its national office on September 20th and it must also lay off its full time staff.
NAWL is about to release 3 important studies; one on pay equity, one on maternity benefits and one on the role of mothering and the law – which includes discussion on childcare and maternity leave provisions.
Do articulate thoughtful feminist lawyers threaten Stephen Harper? Perhaps – but he should deal with it. Slashing funding to such respected groups like NAWL will prove to be a flawed strategy when the time comes to court women and their vote.
The association’s volunteer board will continue to keep the organization alive – but their capacity to consult with women’s groups and advocate for feminist law reform will be greatly diminished.
In addition to the many regional women’s organizations faced with impending closure, the Harper government has also withdrawn funding from several other national women’s organizations including the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) and the Canadian Child Care Advocacy Association (CCAAC).
We disagree with Prime Minister Harper and oppose his government’s decision to weaken the mandate of Status of Women. We lend our voice to the millions of women in Canada who continue to oppose violence in the workplace and at home, who struggle for respect and equality in their everyday lives and who refuse to be silenced.