Is the Province of BC falling behind on Gender Equality?
Judging by the prevalence of violence against women, the answer is yes. Violence in relationships, sexual harassment and assault are the result of the subjugation of women in society impacting their ability to live healthy, happy lives.
Ask your MLA to commit to #KNOWMORE
Ask your MLA to commit to #kNOwmore by creating and upholding policies that will change women’s lives for the better. This BWSS writing campaign began on International Women’s Day and will continue through to Violence against Women Prevention Week (April 16-22). You have a voice, your voice matters and you’re affiliated with us because you care about women and the things that matter to women, our families and our communities.
In one month, BWSS responded to 600 calls, 70 new women accessed services, 56 women accessed legal services and 53 women now have a personalized safety plan. When the needs of women are addressed it makes BC a better place for everyone.
Below is a list of issues that matter to women and girls in BC, which will help increase awareness and help with your letter to your MLA.
Women and girls experience harassment and physical assault on public transit which limits their ability to move freely through the city, to get to work, to school and to live their daily lives. Public transit for women and girls should be safe, affordable and accessible.
Accountability of Police Services
The Independent Investigations Office does nothing to ensure the safety of women who have been sexually assaulted by police officers, or to protect partners who have experienced violence at the hands of officers. There needs to be a mechanism for women who are victims of violence, abuse or harassment at the hands of a police officer, either inside or outside of an intimate relationship, to report that violence without having to go to the RCMP.
The RCMP still does not follow the Violence against Women Relationship Policy, which is a policy implemented by them.
Women who leave abusive relationships and go to transition houses can be forced back to violent/abusive situations, due to the high rates of rent, when the 30 days in a transition house are up. Women should not have to be forced to choose between a roof over their head or abuse.
Legal aid in BC has been drastically reduced, compromising access to justice and the rule of law. Without publicly funded legal advice and representation, women are compromising their rights in order to avoid costly trials or having to self-represent against an abusive, and possibly represented, former partner.
Indigenous Women’s Leadership
Hundreds of Indigenous women and girls have gone missing in Canada in recent decades. Indigenous women are less likely to be supported by police because of biases, and less likely to have access to justice.
Support and funding for Indigenous women’s leadership is needed to help deal with this impact and is a strategy that can be used to create long term change.
An increasing number of women’s advocates have reported that when contacting police, hospitals and other support services, the woman’s immigration status came under scrutiny. In some cases, women have been reported to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This is dangerous as women will be afraid to contact police when experiencing violence, out of fear of deportation.
In Canada, and the America’s –destruction of the land is linked to violence against women. The current system is rooted in the commodification and oppression of women and the land.
The development and sustainability of a green economy moving away from resource extraction will benefit women and their families.
Poverty disproportionately impacts women –a real anti-poverty plan will help address our shocking levels of child and family poverty, including ensuring adequate social assistance rates and living wages that adjust for inflation.
While child care costs have risen 35% since 2007, income has only increased 10%. On average, women spend 50 hours a week caring for children. This is even more difficult to balance while also doing other unpaid work, paid work and experiencing violence or trying to leave an abusive relationship. Providing access to affordable child care would allow women who are leaving abusive relationships access different support they need, such as legal support, find housing, counselling or other support services and income assistance or employment without the worry of looking for child care.
Front line workers play a pivotal role in empowering and supporting a woman when she decides to leave an abusive intimate relationship and in helping a woman navigate the different systems. Women’s organizations have the expertise and knowledge to assist women to leave abusive partners. Currently, there is a high demand for access to counsellors and other services these organizations provide, but there are long wait-lists. Financially supporting these organizations will yield optimal return on investment.
Women make up a disproportionate share of low-income Canadians and are particularly vulnerable in any economic crisis. Women account for 72% of part-time employees and approximately two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage. Canada has the highest levels of working mothers (working outside the home) in our recorded history; 36% of mother-led families still have incomes below the poverty line and 43% of children living in a low-income family live with a single, female parent. The median income for single mothers is more than a third lower than for single fathers.
Supporting women’s economic empowerment through skills based training and supporting women’s micro-businesses through training and funding will help increase economic security for women.
Safety Changes Everything
Your donation will support our services to women survivors of violence every day on our crisis lines, in counselling, and in support groups.
Volunteering at BWSS can be a life-changing experience; you’ll learn valuable skills while working with like-minded women.