Failing to meet its potential: Province scores a “C-” for women

Posted by: West Coast LEAF, Vancouver Observer

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 today.

Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981. The CEDAW Report Card assesses how well BC is measuring up to some of the CEDAW obligations that are within provincial jurisdiction. Although the province’s performance shifted slightly in several areas over the last year, there has been no overall improvement. Over three years, the province has yet to score anything higher than a B-, and this year two grades dropped while three others stayed the same.

West Coast LEAF Legal Director Laura Track says, “BC is a wealthy and prosperous province that has been internationally recognized for its livability. But for the tens of thousands of British Columbians experiencing poverty, marginalization and deprivation, it is anything but livable. The long-term costs of poverty, inadequate social assistance, and lack of legal aid far outweigh the up front investments required for housing, access to justice and greater economic security. BC could live up to its potential as a livable, wealthy province while creating a more equitable society.”…

The 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.

Excerpts from the report:

Aboriginal women are among those most affected by homelessness and unstable housing situations. Nearly half of the women experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver are Aboriginal…

This fall, full-day kindergarten was extended to all five year-olds in the province. Teachers have criticized the implementation of the program and argue that the $365 million the government expects to spend on the program over the next three years will be insufficient to meet children’s needs. It has also placed a strain on before- and after-school care programs, and has resulted in some childcare centres actually losing money because they are no longer providing full-time care.

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