Women’s Issues in this Election are Human Issues!

Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, the gender wage gap, immigration and refugee policy, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions are just some of the issues that greatly impact the lives of Canadians. Although many of these issues have not garnered the attention they merit this election, Canadian women have been speaking up and out to candidates about the kind of changes they want.
The This Election Matters to Women forum hosted last week by the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba and the Council of Women of Winnipeg brought speakers, candidates, and the public together to discuss these issues and the initiatives they want their government to take.
Diane Redsky, Executive Director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, spoke about Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and a National Strategy to address violence against women.
“If you can imagine what families go through when they’re looking for their loved ones and they’re not taken seriously by the police, they’re not taken seriously by anybody in our society, and they get little or no support to help them and to get the answers that they need. We have somehow created a disposable group of women in our society that it’s okay that anything happens to them. Shame on us for allowing that to happen”
Redsky advocated for an inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women that would be lead by Indigenous women and include full participation of political leaders and the police
“It will address the systems that continue to perpetuate creating the vulnerability of Indigenous women, but most importantly it will give voice to families, and hopefully the answers that they need.”
Redsky also advocated for a National Strategy to address violence against women.
Ariana Yaftali, community activist and co-founder of the Afghan-Canadian Women’s Organization spoke about Immigration and Refugee policy. She advocated expediting the process of bringing refugees into Canada.
“Being a refugee myself—though my experience was slightly different that the experience of the Syrians—being a refugee and staying in a refugee camp in a situation—you all have seen it in the media so I don’t have to elaborate about the running, and that it’s mostly women and children. So what is it that your government will do in order to expedite the process and bring these people as fast as possible instead of waiting for another year?”

Yaftali spoke about a desire for consistency and transparency in processing refugees and immigrants.

“Keeping in mind our security procedures . Do something so that our Canadian families will have their family and friends with them .”

Yaftali also advocated for reversing the cuts made to refugee interim healthcare.
Jen Zoratti, Winnipeg Free Press columnist spoke about women in leadership.
“The last Federal election in 2011 only 25% of those elected were women. Now, of the Manitoba candidates, 17 of them are women, so that’s down from 22 in 2011.”
She spoke about the barriers women face in their careers inside and outside of politics. Barriers like being primary caregivers while, gender-biased evaluations of women in the workplace, the mommy-track, access to childcare, and non-flexible work policies.
Zoratti stressed that it is important for girls to see women working in positions of power and making decisions and policy that affect us all.
“I think that if you can see it you can be it”, said Zoratti.
She questioned what parties plan to do in terms of encouraging girls to be leaders.
Allison Fenske, activist, lawyer, and professor at the University of Winnipeg spoke about the gender wage gap.
“According to the World Economic Forum, in a survey for wage equality for similar work, Canada ranks 27th out of 142 countries, with a ratio of women earning 72 cents on the dollar. “
Fenske spoke about narrowing and eliminating the gender wage gap as “a requirement of any strong economic plan in Canada”, explaining that gender wage equity cumulates to the health and success of our community, and would even boost our GDP.
Fenske advocated for re-defining what it means to be dedicated to your employer in a way that doesn’t penalize parents. She spoke about the need to adopt flexible work time and policies, and to increase our recognition of care work; a sector that is dominated by women and chronically under-valued.
“These wage gaps get characterized as a women’s issue, but in reality there are serious economic ramifications for not acting to address systemic, gender-based discrimination.”

You can watch the forum in its entirety here!
This Election Matters to Women livestream – http://livestream.com/accounts/8376143/events/4409983
Cast your ballots on Election Day, Oct. 19th.

Highlights from “Up For Debate” Interviews with Party Leaders

Federal Parties’ Positions on Arts and Culture – http://www.canadianartscoalition.com/archives/1831
CTV Morning interview with Kelly-Ann Stevenson http://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=722790
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/tories-only-party-to-skip-women-s-voting-forum-in-winnipeg-organizers-say-1.3263976

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