Women Call on Mayor Miller to Re-Establish a Status of Women Committee in TorontoWednesday, July 28 2010
We are asking for your support to re-establish a Status of Women Committee and an anti-racist, anti-poverty Gender Mainstreaming Policy at the City of Toronto. The following is the approximate text of a letter that was sent to David Miller, the Mayor of Toronto and 17 council members including all the women on Council and a number of men who have been supportive, on July 14. In the last six months, we and many other women have sent letters and made approaches to the Mayor's office without any response. While we have not had a response to this letter from the Mayor's office, a number of councillors have expressed their interest and support.
Please feel free to use any part of the letter below to write or call the Mayor's office on behalf of your group or as individuals in support of this campaign. Please cc us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor David Miller
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, 2nd floor Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Email: email@example.com cc Diversity and Community Engagement
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street, West, 10th Floor, East Tower
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Since February 2004, a diverse group of women has been organizing to end the growing silence and invisibility of girls' and women's voices and issues on the political agenda in the City of Toronto. With some expectation that recognition of gender awareness would inform the new council, many women actively supported the election campaigns of current council members and the Mayor. We did so with input to political platforms, footwork, expert analysis and sound advice about the challenges facing Toronto women. While council tackles many issues of importance to the community, including women's communities, it has done so without a systematic gender analysis .
For example, while the current Council priorities of Community Safety, Affordable Housing, Transportation and a participatory City Budget are all critical to women, there is no mention of women in the pronouncements of the new city government or in the Official Plan. Poverty, homelessness, un- and under-employment, racist and domestic violence and sexual abuse is an overwhelming reality for many girls and women. How do we measure whether policies and programs directed at youth violence or racism actually have the same or a differential impact on women and girls? How much of the budget is allocated to policies and programs which will address the priorities of the diverse women of Toronto?
Many women with substantial local and international expertise to be resources to the City to help ensure that anti-racist, anti-poverty, gender mainstreaming becomes part of Toronto's policy agenda. Gender Mainstreaming is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality [by transforming the mainstream] (ECOSOC, 1997, emphasis added).
Gender mainstreaming is implemented through processes and tools which empower women to bring equality and equity to issues of decision-making, control over resources, budgets, benefits and rewards. This includes the perspective that gender intersects with race, ethnicity, class, age, ability, sexual and gender identity and Aboriginality and as such, all policies need to reflect these social realities and identities. Gender mainstreaming addresses the unequal power relations between racialized and marginalized communities and the dominant group/culture.
We are proposing an institutional and systematic approach to gender equality. Canada supports the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 1981, as well as the Declaration and Plan of Action from the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. We want these agreements implemented in Toronto. We urge you to take leadership in this matter and make Toronto a model city for the rest of the country.
We want Toronto to:
- ensure political commitment to and action on gender equity and anti-racism;
- remove barriers to women's active participation in all spheres of public life;
- secure an equal share in all decision-making processes;
- institutionalize inclusive, democratic and participatory processes;
- support women across their diverse backgrounds to meet their rights and needs through systemic institutional change; and
- initiate gender-responsive budgeting.
- The CAO be directed to consult with women and women's groups in Toronto including the Toronto Women's Call to Action to create a Status of Women Committee.
- A Working Group on Gender Mainstreaming be established to implement CEDAW, and the Beijing and Durban Declarations and Plans of Action. This process must include leadership from Council and the Mayor's Office.
- The 2005 budget be informed by a gender, anti-racist and anti-poverty analysis.