British Columbia Scores a "C-" for Women: West Coast LEAF CEDAW Report Card
For the second year in a row, British Columbia has scored an overall C- in women’s rights. The province is failing to meet its potential due to continued detrimental practices particularly affecting low income and marginalized women. The grade was awarded in the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund’s third annual CEDAW Report Card, released yesterday.
West Coast LEAF CEDAW Report Card is released every year on the anniversary of the 1929 Persons Day victory that established many women as “persons” under the law and eligible for appointment to the Senate. The purpose of this report card is to grade the Government of British Columbia on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981.
CEDAW enshrines important protections for women in international human rights law. The UN CEDAW Committee is an international body of independent experts who are charged with monitoring state parties’ compliance and implementation of the Convention. Every four years, each country that has signed on to the Convention must report to the CEDAW Committee about how well it is measuring up to the CEDAW standards of women’s equality. Non-governmental organizations may also submit what are called “shadow reports”, expressing their views on that country’s CEDAW compliance.
Canada ratified CEDAW on December 10, 1981. In October and November of 2008, the CEDAW Committee considered the sixth and seventh reports from Canada, along with reports from local NGOs, and issued its observations on Canada’s compliance and implementation of the Convention. The BC CEDAW Group, a coalition of women’s organizations in BC including West Coast LEAF, produced a shadow report about the situation for women in BC. The Committee was very concerned about a number of issues concerning women’s rights in Canada, and singled out some issues of significance in BC especially. The Committee took the unusual step of requiring Canada to report back to the Committee in a year on its progress on two issues of
(1) establishing and monitoring minimum standards for the provision of funding to social assistance programs, and carrying out an impact assessment of social programs related to women’s rights; and
(2) examining the failure to investigate the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and to address those failures.
The Government of Canada submitted its response to these questions in February 2010, and the BC CEDAW Group submitted a shadow report entitled “Nothing to Report.” This Report Card measures how well BC is measuring up to some of the CEDAW obligations that fall within provincial jurisdiction, including these two areas of urgent concern to the Committee.