Coalition for Women's Equality Applauds Committee on the Status of Women Efforts and Urges Action

Monday, July 26 2010

April 22, 2005: The Coalition for Women’s Equality (CWE), a strategic alliance of national equality-seeking groups, commends the Standing Committee on the Status of Women for its historic report on Gender-Based Analysis (GBA). The federal government adopted a Gender based analysis strategy in 1995 in order to meet its equality commitments under the Beijing Platform for Action. Despite the government’s commitments to GBA, the committee found that- a decade later - its application was, at best, uneven.

“This is the first time Parliamentarians have systematically examined GBA as a major public policy initiative within the federal government. The committee is to be commended for its leadership and foresight,” remarked Lise Martin, executive director of CRIAW.

The CWE echoes the findings of the committee in which GBA is viewed as not simply an end in and of itself but as “a tool to ensure that programs and policies benefit women and men equally”. According to the CWE, a viable mechanism would include a strong consultation component with women’s equality-seeking groups in order to ground government policy in the reality of women’s lives.

CWE also applauds the recommendations that central government agencies play a more active role in overseeing the application of GBA- in order that there be sufficient accountability structure for this initiative. Without the solid cooperation of the department of Finance, the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board, GBA will not flourish.

Further, according to CWE, the successful implementation of the report’s recommendations rests on the substantial engagement by political leaders and senior government officials with the goals of GBA. “National women’s groups have seen the limitations of a GBA strategy which has not been properly resourced. Full implementation of the committee’s recommendations require substantial financial resources,“ says Bonnie Diamond.

Furthermore, the CWE regards the establishment of a more comprehensive Women’s Equality Act as integral to the success of an improved approach to GBA. Such an act would need to ensure strong accountability mechanisms, much like the current Official Languages Act.

As it currently stands, GBA is by and large an internally developed mechanism which was initiated by Status of Women Canada as a way for Canada to address gender equality in departmental policy. Opportunities to debate methodological and political issues linked to GBA have been few and far between since the concept was first introduced in Canada in 1995.

“GBA could more fully benefit from the expertise of feminist scholars as well as equality seeking organizations which could enhance the development of sound public policy that meets Canada’s international human rights obligations to women,” adds Nancy Peckford of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action. The tools currently in place are not yet sufficient to meet Canada’s commitments in this regard.

The CWE challenges all political parties to support the development of an action plan which will operationalize the recommendations in this report. Many women in Canada are anxious, prior to any election, to see where the political parties stand on women’s equality.

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