CEDAW Report Card 2013

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 particular concern:

(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.” The UN Committee has not yet responded to these reports. Canada is due to make its next submission to the CEDAW Committee in December, 2014.

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. For more information on our methodology and grading scheme used, please turn to the back cover of the Report Card.

So… How is BC measuring up to international legal standards of women’s equality?

West Coast LEAF's CEDAW report card

The goal of West Coast LEAF’s CEDAW Report Card project is to raise public awareness about the shortcomings and successes of BC in meeting its international obligations on women’s rights, and to advocate for adequate responses to the CEDAW Committee’s concerns.
West Coast LEAF distributed a draft of the report card to a number of community organizations and representatives. We sought their written input and feedback, and engaged in telephone and in-person conversations as well. The feedback we received was extremely valuable in formulating the final version of this report card.

Violence against girls and women is one of the most powerful expressions of male privilege

Source: By don’t know (from the album of my father) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons glassvisage.hubpages.com

Throughout the world there is a belief that men have and should have power over women and children. Societal gender roles reinforce and perpetuate this male privilege. Men are often raised and encouraged to believe that they have to be tough as an expected part of manhood. Women often have been socialized to think, feel, and behave according to societal expectations such as it is a woman’s duty to cook, to serve, to raise the children, and to provide sex whenever the man desires.

“The fighting often got worse and worse whenever I did not want to make love when he wanted to. That’s when he turned on me. I never thought I had the right to say no. I found out the hard way.”

Log onto BWSS Battered Women’s Support Services or The Violence Stops Here through Facebook, read our Ending Violence Blog, and follow Ending Violence on Twitter for tips and tools for action.  Then share liberally to start the conversation and take the conversation further than you ever have before.

Use your POWER to make your action count!

BC Government refuses to fund victims support during the 2010 Olympic/Paralympic Games while billions spent on security.

BC Government refuses to fund victims support
during the 2010 Olympic/Paralympic Games
while billions spent on security.

While Canada invites the world to play it up in our communities, several Vancouver and Sea to Sky Corridor community-based agencies are expected to provide service to international women and children experiencing domestic and sexual assault with zero additional funding.

“In addition to meeting the regular demands of our programming, community based agencies are expected to absorb the anticipated 10 to 36% increase in violence against women and children during the Olympics,” says Tara Franz, Executive Director of the Howe Sound Women’s Centre.

After 2 years of monthly discussions with the provincial government, and four months to go to the opening ceremony, victim service agencies have been told they are “on their own” to service the needs of both local and international victims of domestic and sexual assault.

“This issue of violence against women during the Winter Games is coalescing organizations in the anti-violence sector from Whistler to Vancouver. We are concerned about the demand on services because we want to support international visitors during their stay. We would like our provincial government to recognize we need their help,” explains Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women Support Services.

Contact:     Tara Franz, Executive Director, Howe Sound Women’s Centre, 604-892-5748
Shannon Cooley Herdman, Women’s Programs Manager, HSWC, 604-892-5748
Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, Executive Director, WAVAW, 604-771-1715
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, BWSS, 604-808-0507

Elaine Allenbach Is Missing!

The corner of Seymour and Helmcken is at the centre of one Vancouver “stroll” where sex workers have worked since the mid 1980’s.  It is the location where Elaine Allenbach went missing in 1986.  Who is Elaine Allenbach?  Who was Helmcken?  What is Seymour?  On Sunday August 10th Angela Marie MacDougall from Battered Women’s Support Services will tell the story of an intersection in Vancouver, talk about the disappearance of Elaine Allenbach and why Battered Women’s Support Services has a presence on that corner today.  Hear the story on Coop Radio Sunday, August 10th at 9 pm.  Co-op Radio 102.7 FM or streaming at www.coopradio.org.  For more information see http://www.thestorytellingshow.com/shows.htm