Harper government working to silence women: National Association of Women and the Law


OTTAWA – Effective today, the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is being forced to close its office, lay off its staff, and cease major consultations and advocacy on women’s legal issues as an outcome of the Harper government’s devastating changes to the mandate of Status of Women Canada. This closure is a grave blow to the continuing struggle for women’s equality…

NAWL has identified many issues on its law reform agenda that need to be addressed in order to ensure real equality for women. These include working to achieve proactive pay equity legislation, improved maternity and parental benefits, funding for universally accessible child care and early learning initiatives, funding for civil legal aid, reform of the Divorce Act, family reunification for domestic workers, equality rights for lesbian mothers, improved living conditions and respect for the matrimonial property rights of Aboriginal women living on reserves, improvements to the Canadian Human Rights Act and equality in the workplace and in the family….

Related articles

Women’s group closes after losing its funding; Opposition MPs say Harper government ‘turning back clock’
The Toronto Star
September 21, 2007
By: Les Whittington

Women’s rights advocates accused the Harper government of ignoring their struggle for equality after a leading women’s group closed its doors because of a lack of federal funding.

Supported by opposition MPs, the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) vowed yesterday to use volunteers to keep up its efforts to combat violence against women, improve living conditions for those on low incomes, achieve pay equity, obtain funding for universal child care and other causes.

NAWL lost its funding of $300,000 a year after government spending cuts announced last fall. Despite a $13 billion budget surplus, the government slashed outlays for women’s advocacy projects and eliminated the Court Challenges Program, which funded legal actions by rights advocates. The Tories said Status of Women Canada would no longer fund organizations pressing policymakers to improve conditions for women.

“The Harper government is trying to silence women’s groups who speak out against its right-wing agenda,” NAWL board member Pamela Cross said. “These are ideologically driven cuts that demonstrate a defective concept of women’s equality and democracy.”

Opposition MPs denounced the moves by the Harper government.

“Women are being silenced in Canada,” Liberal MP Maria Minna (Beaches-East York) told the NAWL press conference. “How can we … say we are promoting rights for women in Afghanistan when our government is forcing women’s organizations to close?”

New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen said “the closure of NAWL will turn back the clock on women’s equality in Canada.”

NAWL, a non-profit legal reform organization set up in 1974, has, among other things, worked to strengthen laws dealing with rape, improve family law and ensure women’s equality was specifically included in the Charter of Rights. Cross said the group will continue by using volunteers, but that its effectiveness as a resource will be undercut by the closing of its office.

Heritage Minister Josee Verner told a news conference that NAWL might have some projects eligible for funding but that research and advocacy work would not qualify.

Women’s Equality moves to the back of the shop – Closure of NAWL leads to renewed call from labour for government to restore Status of Women mandate and funding
September 20, 2007

OTTAWA – The Canadian Labour Congress renewed its call today for the federal government to reverse budget cuts that have devastated progressive women’s groups across the country and immediately reinstate the equality mandate for Status of Women Canada.