Education / Legislation
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
STATUS OF WOMEN AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Chair: Anne Cordon
The Ontario Council Status of Women and Human Rights Committee seeks to assist local members in bringing forth discussion and activism in their Clubs and communities by focusing on the many issues and concerns of women across the province. The three meetings held throughout the year provide Ontario members with the opportunity to speak with a collective voice for the current concerns of women and an opportunity to learn more about the issues of the day.
TOPIC: United Nations Commission of the Status of Women (UNCSW): 61st Session: Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work: Impressions, Influence, Importance
SPEAKERS: Teri Shaw, Ontario Council Advocacy Co-Coordinator, Sandy Thomson, Ontario Council President, Kathryn Wilkinson, Vice-President, Education, CFUW National, Dr. Sharon Crabb, Vice-President, Advocacy, CFUW National
The plan for this afternoon was to tap into our own experts to find out directly what is happening at the UN Commission of the Status of Women. Teri, Sandy, Kathryn, and Sharon had just returned from New York City where they were part of our 20 person CFUW delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) taking place from March 13-24, 2017. The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. What a fantastic opportunity to hear from our delegates what is happening and we were not disappointed: such talent, inspiration, and passion!! Sandy attended this year for the first time, so her observations were as a neophyte while the others had been to several and were becoming veterans on how to make the most of the events and how to make connections.
Closing the Gender Wage Gap
Speaker: Jan Borowy, Equal Pay Coalition and Doris Mae Oulton, Past President, CFUW for Linda Davis, Ontario Government’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee
Closing the Gender Wage Gap (GWG) was selected as the theme to kick start our journey of learning and advocacy for 2017. The gap remains high, at approximately 30 %. Equal Pay Day this year is April 19, symbolizing how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned last year. What drives this gap? What can be done?
Setting the Stage
This write-up will only include highlights selected to inform and guide our work. Our speakers offered helpful information and advice. It is recommended that you check the CFUW Ontario Council website to consult the resources provided on this topic, including speaker presentations plus the handout Gender Wage Gap in Ontario Backgrounder that lists the recommendations of both the Gender Wage Gap (GWG) Strategy Steering Committee and the Equal Pay Coalition (EPC).
Topic: Current status of women’s safety from gender-based violence and harassment on post-secondary campuses & society with suggestions for future action (morning & afternoon)
Speaker: Professor Joan Simalchik, University of Toronto Mississauga
Violence and harassment towards women continues despite huge attempts in the 20th & 21st century to rid our society of these behaviours and attitudes. We continue to live in a patriarchal society where women are seen as the “others”. Professor Simalchik quoted Gloria Steinem who said when asked whether she has seen any changes in actions and attitudes that the term domestic violence is new, previously gender-based harassment and violence were called “life”. READ MORE
Our guest speaker Mohini Athia, the Director of Communications at COPA, gave an energetic, passionate and informative talk about COPA. COPA is a Francophone non-profit organization in Ontario offering services in both French and English. Founded in 1995, COPA has been recognized internationally as a center of excellence in the field of violence and bully prevention, and equity and inclusion. Their approach is based on individual and collective empowerment, founded on principles of social justice to bring about positive social change. COPA cares deeply about human rights, especially those of children and other marginalized groups.
See the full Report of the Status of Women Committee
See full Report of the Education committee.
- Topic: Bridges Out of Poverty
Speaker: Elaine Weir, Bridges Facilitator & Circles Coach
Morning Session: With passion and humility, Elaine explained what it means to live in poverty and how people living a middle class or wealthy existence can’t possible understand how much our lives, goals, motivation, and relationships differ. She spent both the morning and afternoon providing insight and inspiration of what individuals and communities can do to break the cycle of poverty for individuals and groups.
Elaine Weir is a Public Health Nurse with Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health. She brings more than 30 years of experience and expertise to the Bridges initiative. Elaine has worked in a variety of organizations including hospitals, communities and educational settings. Elaine’s work as a public health nurse on the front lines has given her firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by individuals living in poverty.
Bridges out of Poverty is a program developed in the United States by Ruby Payne to educate the community about poverty and people who live in poverty. The intension is that through education, professionals and other people in all sectors of the community will open their minds to the culture of poverty and build relationships to create a sustainable community.
The initiative involves three interconnected programs:
- Bridges is the first step where individuals of middle and upper income become aware of the hidden rules of poverty (http://circlesgw.ca/bridges/ ). The purpose of the Bridges out of Poverty program is to educate individuals with middle and upper incomes by looking at the four causes of poverty:
- individual behaviour
- community conditions
- political and economic structures
- Getting Ahead is the program for individuals living in poverty to help these individuals become aware of resources that are available in the community, reflect on their own path and the factors that cause poverty. (http://circlesgw.ca/getting-ahead/ ).
- Circles® is a community-based initiative that creates genuine relationships across economic boundaries. It matches people of low-income who have attended the Getting Ahead program with people of middle- and upper-income who have attended Bridges training. (http://circlesgw.ca/circles/)
Therefore, a “circle” consists of three types of people —
- Circles® Leader – An individual or family of low income who is interested in becoming self-sufficient.
- Allies – two or three volunteers for each Leader who engage in an intentional, caring relationship with an individual or family working to become self-sufficient.
- The Coach – The Circles® Coach supports Circles® Leaders and Allies in fine-tuning personalized action plans. The Circles® coach is a paid position that has received specialized training to support and manage the Circles® program.
Circles® is a high-impact, 18-month-long voluntary strategy designed to:
– provide emotional and practical support
– assist with complex issues
– build the “social capital” of people living in low income situations
– show the community the very real barriers holding people in poverty
– walk with people in poverty and support positive changes in their lives
I would love to provide a copy of the excellent slides from Elaine’s talk, but regrettably the slides are under copyright. However, if you want more information about the program in Guelph-Waterloo refer to the website http://circlesgw.ca or if you want to contact Elaine with questions or to discuss possibly speaking to your local club, email her at Elaine.Weir@wdgpublichealth.ca .
Afternoon: Continuation of the Bridges out of Poverty discussion with Elaine Weir
The afternoon session allowed participants to delve into the discussion more deeply with simulations and questions and answers about the Guelph-Waterloo and the Sarnia experiences. We all participated in graphic Journey where we all started at the same point (actually standing on a line across the middle of the room) and then either moving ahead or backwards based on different scenarios capturing opportunities or disadvantages based on gender, race, age, etc. Guess what demographic had progressed ahead the farthest? We closed the session by brain storming ways to apply these principles to our CFUW clubs.