B.C. gets “barely passing grade” on women’s equality from Vancouver legal group

Yolande Cole, Georgia Straight

West Coast LEAF issued their fourth annual “report card” on women’s rights ..
A Vancouver non-profit legal organization has assigned what it describes as a “barely passing grade” to B.C. in its annual evaluation of women’s rights in the province.

In a report released today (October 18), the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund gave a score of C- in its assessment of how B.C. is measuring up to obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The organization argues that B.C. is falling particularly behind in the areas of women’s access to justice, social assistance and poverty, and missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

According to West Coast LEAF legal director Laura Track, the issue of poverty is a common theme identified across all categories evaluated.

“Whether we’re considering women’s access to safe housing, childcare, legal aid, women’s health, issues of violence, the disproportionate impact of poverty on women is very clear,” she told the Straight by phone.

“And B.C.’s poverty rate, which has been the highest in the country for the last 12 years, masks even higher rates of poverty for particular groups of women, particularly aboriginal women, immigrant women, and women heading lone-parent families.”

The category that scored the lowest grade in the organization’s report card was access to justice…

She argued the common theme of poverty throughout the group’s evaluation points to a need for a provincial anti-poverty strategy. In the group’s report, they note that nearly 50 percent of children of new immigrants in B.C. are living in poverty—a statistic identified in a November 2011 report on child poverty from the organization First Call B.C.

“That is a shocking number, and I think highlights the ways in which many of these issues that we look at, and in particular poverty, have disproportionate impacts on already marginalized populations,” Track commented….

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