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Fifty trade union sisters from Canada are part of a record number of women – more than 8,000 – meeting in New York March 1 to 12. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meets every year to assess progress being made on women’s equality around the world.

This year’s session, Beijing +15, will hold countries accountable for promises made in 1995 under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Canada, as well as many other countries, adopted the declaration, which committed them to work towards full equality for women.

CUPE National’s Equality director Maureen Morrison will be at the session. Morrison is part of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) delegation that will meet with the Canadian minister responsible for the Status of Women on Feb. 28.

“One of the critical issues that I’ll be raising is child care,” says Morrison. “The federal government has refused to implement a national child care program, which is key to delivering full equality for Canadian women.”

“Canada’s report to the UN paints a very rosy picture of women’s progress in our country, but it doesn’t tell the whole story,” Morrison says. “For example, in 2006, the Harper government eliminated the funding agreements that had been negotiated with the provinces and territories to provide $5 billion dollars for child care and early learning programs.”

The CLC and the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) have released a report, Reality Check, which outlines Canada’s dramatic shift away from the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls during the past few years.

The Canadian delegates will caucus daily with other union sisters from all over the world to work on common concerns. There are meetings every day with the official Canadian delegation where the labour delegation women will present their views.

The objective of the UNCSW is to get member states to agree on a “statement” that documents recommended actions to achieve women’s equality.

“It can be an effective tool for holding our Canadian government accountable, both nationally and on the world stage,” says Morrison.