Mother’s Day 2011: Battered Women’s Support Services is thinking about the Canadian Federal Election
by Angela Marie MacDougall
On May 2, 2011, Canada elected a new majority government. Canada has a parliamentary system, different from the US system of separation of powers. Power is vested in the parliament, which has two houses: an elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate, which has fewer powers. Political parties field candidates across the electoral districts (called ridings), across the country. The voting is similar to the US and the UK, where the candidate with the most votes claims the seat. The party with the most seats out of the 308 total gets to form a government. Each party has a leader, and the leader of the party with the most seats becomes the Prime Minister, appoints a cabinet and gets to govern.
This 41st session of Parliament was historic, for the first time in Canadian history there will be more women than ever representing Canadians with 76 women elected into government. For the first time The New Democratic Party will replace the Liberal Party as the official Opposition and for the first time a Green Party, member Elizabeth May was elected into parliament. More about the Canadian Parliamentary System here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Canada, here http://www.filibustercartoons.com/canguide_1_prlmnt_mp-pm.php and here http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/GuideToHoC/can_parl-e.asp
Mother’s Day 2011
At Battered Women’s Support Services, last year we answered 9,500 crisis calls and our staff and volunteers provided information, crisis intervention, emotional support and referrals. On average 80% of the women who access Battered Women’s Support Services have children. It is astounding how many Mothers are dealing with violence and abuse in their homes. The very place that is supposed to be a safe haven is actually a war zone where of the women we see they are Mothering over 10,500 children; children who are witnessing their Mother’s abuse by a father or father figure.
At the heart of women abuse is inequality, the imbalance of power and the prevalence of control within the relationship. Surrounding the relationship are layers of cultural, social, systemic and institutional influences that make it difficult for women dealing with abuse and violence to leave violent homes. Barriers including Economic Abuse
Battered Women’s Support Services is a feminist organization, an equality seeking organization, which means in our efforts to end violence against women we are interested in leveling the playing field within our society so that all are able to have safety, access and justice. Equality, in our opinion, does not mean sameness. Equality, in our opinion, recognizes the uniqueness and differences among us, as well as, historic, legal and social aspects that have entrenched inequality that would need to be redressed and/or reconciled.
In 2006, Canada placed 14th out of 115 countries in terms of the World Forum’s “gender-gap index” – a complex calculation that takes account of wages, education, health and political power. In 2009, Canada had slipped to 25th place. Further, the phrase “gender equality” has been eliminated from the mandate of Canada’s primary institution responsible for gender equality in Canada: Status of Women; and while the word equality was re-introduced to the mandate, the spirit of equality has not been re-established. With the closure of twelve of sixteen Status of Women offices we are coming from behind in our efforts now to redress and achieve equality.
The current situation, sees Canada facing a national tragedy of 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal Women and eliminating funding to Sisters In Spirit. Women are facing proposed changes to Immigration where Sponsorship conditions would jeopardize Immigrant women’s safety and women fleeing to Canada due to Gender Persecution. Over the years we have witnessed the dismantling of the social safety net that would assist to level the playing field for women as represented in this List of Women’s Organizations That Have Had Funding Cut by the Federal Government.
So in the struggle for equality, in our offices, Mothers are taking hold of their lives and seeking safety and liberation. Ahhh yes, there is liberation. Liberation can be defined as the seeking of equal status or just treatment for or on behalf of any group believed to be discriminated against or better yet, to set free, as from oppression, confinement or control. Through calling our Crisis Line Mothers are taking steps for safety. Through accessing our Support Group Program, Mothers are making steps towards empowerment, and healing. Through our Victim Service Program, Mother’s testify as witnesses to their own assault in Criminal Court. Through our Legal Services and Advocacy Program Mother’s fight for the safety of their children in Family Court. Through our Employment Program, Mothers make leaps toward economic independence.
Every day Mothers, at Battered Women’s Support Services are seeking liberation and justice in spite of the political walls that continue to be erected.
And while Canadian women continue to wait on delivery on the commitment to the implementation of gender-based analysis throughout the federal government departments, agencies and policies, at Battered Women’s Support Services we will be working on the front-lines to assist Mothers and their children deal with the very worst that humans can do to humans.
Standing Up! Standing Strong for Mother’s