UNPAC (United Nations Platform for Action Committee Manitoba) ClosesWednesday, June 11 2014
UNPAC dies prematurely due to lack of funding
The social justice community in Manitoba mourns the loss of UNPAC (the United Nations Platform for Action Committee) which is closing its doors. At the same time, the innovative organization that supported women's equality and empowerment - locally and globally - through community action and education, will be celebrated. A gathering to acknowledge UNPAC's legacy will be held on at MAWA, 611 Main Street in Winnipeg.
UNPAC came into being in 1996 after 45 Manitoba women attended Beijing for the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, most on their own dime, participating in both the UN conference and the parallel NGO Conference in 1995. They returned with a commitment to see the recommendations in the Platform for Action - the roadmap for equality that was agreed to in Beijing by Canada and 188 other nations - implemented.
The Platform for Action identifies 12 Critical Areas of Concern regarding the main obstacles to women's advancement. The areas are: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, the girl child and the economy.
Through the years, UNPAC found creative, interactive ways to encourage Manitobans and their elected officials to implement the recommendations of the Platform for Action here at home.
- the Women and the Economy project (2001) which promoted women's economic literacy in Manitoba, the Banging Down the Door: Women and the Economy video and two-volume resource book
- Gender budget workshops (2004-2008): 46 workshops were held to promote Manitoba women's economic literacy/security and encourage the provincial government to create a more gender responsive budget
- Femme Fiscale, a real-life feminist superhero, who was also the focus of a postcard series on poverty, housing, child care and other issues of concern to women and their families
- Equality report cards (2010, 2012) which graded the provincial government on their performance in such areas as women's health, economic security, childcare, housing, access to justice, violence against women and rural and northern issues
- Changemakers and Pathmakers mentorship, skill-building and leadership programs in Winnipeg and four rural areas
- UNPAC website (UNPAC.ca) with information sheets on key issues and analysis, women and the economy, and program curriculum
- The Not Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty activist award to acknowledge women who contribute to the empowerment of marginalized people
UNPAC has suffered, as have other women's organizations, from the cold climate for funding educational and advocacy work at a grass roots level. Canada Revenue Agency requirements to drastically alter the UNPAC purpose in order to obtain charitable status, which might have increased access to other funding, felt like a "cure that was worse than the disease". UNPAC decided to decline the charitable status.
After careful consideration and with sadness, the UNPAC Coordinating Committee and members voted in April to dissolve the corporation and cease operation, effective . "Many inequalities still need to be addressed" UNPAC's co-chair Caryn Douglas said. "It is hoped that a vision of something new will emerge that is as responsive to the needs of women and girls in Manitoba as UNPAC strived to be - from grassroots to treetops!"
The celebration of UNPAC's life will be preceded by its last annual meeting at This year's Not Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty award will be presented to performing artist Debbie Patterson at that time. A book titled "Counting on Marilyn Waring - New Advances in Feminist Economics" which features a chapter by local authors Lorna Turnbull and Mara Fridell will also be unveiled. To attend, please RSVP at www.UNPAC.ca.
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