Throughout the year, West Coast LEAF advocates for provincial and national legislative and policy reforms that promote equality. We also push for transformative change with international bodies that can help create more inclusive, diverse, responsive, and fair societies for all of us.
Marginalized women must be part of strategies for change
This week, we were in Ottawa at the W7 summit alongside other feminist activists from around the world who are pushing G7 members to prioritize gender equality when they meet at their annual summit in June.
Executive Director Kasari Govender joined more than 70 women from around the world at the summit. The W7 is urging G7 member governments to use an intersectional approach to recognize that marginalized women must play key roles in the development of strategic economic and political priorities.
We are urging G7 nations to lead by example by investing in women-led initiatives at home and abroad, to tackle issues from gender-based violence to economic inequality.
Equality and justice at home
Recently, West Coast LEAF made several recommendations to the provincial government on two pressing issues for women and marginalized communities – to help guide BC’s poverty reduction strategy and to promote unbiased policing.
Last month, we submitted recommendations on BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
We called for legislation to support pay equity recognizing equal pay for work of equal value as a human right; to increase the minimum wage to a living wage; to establish an accessible universal child care system that prioritizes the needs of disadvantaged groups; to support a child welfare system that keeps families together and prioritizes prevention over apprehension; and to ensure adequate family law legal aid so women don’t have to give up their legal rights because they can’t afford a lawyer.
Earlier this month, we submitted recommendations to BC’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to inform the development of provincial standards and policies on unbiased policing.
West Coast LEAF recognizes the profound risks and harms that bias in police conduct creates for people who experience systemic injustices, including Indigenous people and undocumented migrants.
For example, we are working alongside our grassroots partners to ensure that women with precarious immigration status are able to report domestic violence to the police, without fear of deportation.
Significantly, we urge the government to implement the recommendations of the provincial Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which states that the provincial government “set a standard establishing that police officers have a general and binding duty to promote equality and to refrain from discriminatory policing.”
It is clear that we have a long way to go before all British Columbians feel equally respected and protected from discrimination.
As we saw in the recent BC Court of Appeal decision that upheld the dismissal of a human rights complaint on behalf of street homeless in downtown Vancouver, we are reminded that we need to keep up the pressure in order to fully eliminate the systems of discrimination that severely impact women and racialized and marginalized communities.