Today, as we commemorate the anniversary of the brutal murders of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989, we pledge to fight.
On this National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, we release our 10th annual CEDAW Report Card, which grades BC on the human rights standards set by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Our Report Card is a snapshot of the actions taken – or not taken—by the BC government during the year.
Many Canadians believe that our nation is exemplary when it comes to gender equality and human rights. But the reality is that the UN has repeatedly called out Canada for human rights violations. The truth is, we aren’t meeting international standards.
Our local fight for gender equality is also part of the larger global struggle. So, where do we fight? The answer is everywhere we can raise our voices for equality: before the courts, on the legislature steps, in the media, and at the United Nations.
The Province received a D- on violence against women, which includes the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. While gendered violence knows no boundaries, Indigenous women and girls continue to face disproportionate rates of violence.
BC has failed to take urgently necessary action—including for access to justice and poverty alleviation—to remove barriers to women seeking safety. It’s a fact that poor conditions for women in areas such as housing, access to justice, employment, and health care can increase women’s vulnerability to violence and intensify barriers to seeking safety.
BC also received a D- for failing to correct its ever-worsening over-incarceration of Indigenous people, particularly girls and women. It is disturbing that inequalities in the criminal justice system based on colonization are deepening over time rather than being addressed meaningfully—with serious consequences for human rights.
There are some bright spots in this year’s Report Card: BC has made substantial progress towards meeting child care obligations, earning an unusually high A- in this area. This is the first time in a generation that parents are paying less, not more, for child care—a noteworthy improvement. We will continue to work with the tireless child care advocates in BC to push the government to fulfil the promise of universal child care.
Although BC has taken some significant steps forward in the past year, in 2019 we will keep holding the BC government accountable to address gender inequality and fulfil our international human rights obligations.