Opening a space for women

the regina mom posted this on Ryan Meili’s ideas page, in response to a call for ideas about building gender equity in SK.  Ryan is the candidate trm is supporting in the SK NDP Leadership race.  She is overwhelmed by and grateful for the positive support the idea is receiving.

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OPENING A SPACE FOR WOMEN

 

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the Saskatchewan women’s movement was a force to be reckoned with. Feminist organizations within the province had built a solid base from which to act and continue to build.

The Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda* was the result of an intense, two-year, participatory process that brought more than 50 Saskatchewan women’s organizations together to determine what women needed to live full and equitable lives in this province. The Agenda addressed a broad range of issues, established goals and directed our work and the work we hoped to see a new government take on.

But then came the feminist backlash. As a result, debt reduction gave way to creating a better world for women. Most feminist organizations faced slashed budgets from federal and provincial sources. Some groups folded. Others managed to hold onto shoestring funding and find other sources and stay alive.

Feminists in Saskatchewan have not come together in a real and meaningful way since the mid 1990’s. Key organizers within the women’s movement have left the province or worse, passed on. Generational change is afoot in the organizations that managed to stay afloat and a key piece of our Saskatchewan women’s history, the Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda, is difficult to find, let alone study and pass on.

In mid-October, Niki Ashton, Member of Parliament for Churchill and Opposition Critic for Women, hosted the Women’s Forum des Femmes which brought together a diverse community of women from across the country. Ms Ashton created a “space for women to share experiences, ideas, and shape collective plans for re-igniting the women’s movement in Canada.” Women who hadn’t connected since the 90’s were able to share their stories, many heart-breaking and anger-making, to reconnect with sisters in the struggle, to re-invigorate each other and younger feminists taking leadership in the movement and yes, to re-ignite the Canadian women’s movement grounded in wisdom, a passion for change and a commitment to make a better world.

This is what the Saskatchewan women’s movement needs. Ms Ashton’s model can be easily adapted to the provincial level. The new Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP can make it happen. He can make it happen because he knows we are better together.

Respectfully submitted,

23OCT2012
Bernadette Wagner
@thereginamom
http://thereginamom.com 

*Note that I will upload the Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda as soon as a scanned copy is available.

A woman’s work is never done

the regina mom is in Ottawa, visiting her offspring.  She’s taken in a poetry reading, witnessed the horrors of Question Period in the House of Commons, and visited with some friends.  And today, before she flies back to her Prairie home, she will be part of a national Women’s Forum hosted by her adopted Member of Parliament, Niki Ashton, the Opposition Critic for Women.  The good folks at rabble.ca will provide live coverage of the event.

Ms Ashton has been an excellent in her post as Critic, taking an energetic and leading role in defeating the anti-choice Motion 312 in the House of Commons.

Women across the country continue to take action to ensure that abortion services are available across the country.  This Saturday, October 20, is Reproductive Justice Day. Events are planned in several major centres.  Here is the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada‘s news release in full.
http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/press/ARCC-CDAC-release-oct18-12-english.pdf

For immediate release                                                                                         October 18, 2012

Access to Abortion Needs to Be Improved Now

Oct. 20 National Day for Reproductive Justice Highlights Access Gaps in Maritimes and Across Canada for Abortion and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

NATIONAL  –  A coalition of groups and individuals across the country is calling upon governments across Canada to take immediate steps to improve access to abortion and other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in neglected regions of Canada – particularly the Maritimes, the North, rural areas, and on First Nations reserves.

“It’s time to change the debate by talking about how to improve access to healthcare, not restrict it like some anti-choice Members of Parliament want to do,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), the group leading the ad hoc coalition behind the Oct 20 day.

“On October 20, we are demanding that governments across the country start ensuring that abortion care and sexual and reproductive health services are available and accessible to every person who needs them, including women, youth, transgendered persons, and men. We also need to reduce unwanted pregnancy, the main cause of abortion, by making contraception widely available and covered by Medicare.”

At the top of the ad hoc coalition’s list of demands is fully-funded abortion services on request in Prince Edward Island. [see page 3 of this release, or http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/RJ-day-demands.pdf] “PEI is the only province still violating the law by failing to provide any abortion care inside its borders, forcing women to travel to Halifax or Fredericton for care,” said Arthur. “This creates real hardship and injustice for women, especially those who are young, low-income, aboriginal, and immigrant.” Last November, a research project conducted by Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie at UPEI found that many women have even tried to do dangerous self-abortions on themselves.

Some PEI women are able to arrange an abortion in Halifax paid for by the PEI government, but the process can be time-consuming and difficult to navigate for many women. Many more women end up paying around $800 to have an abortion at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton NB. They are forced to pay out of pocket because New Brunswick refuses to fund the clinic, even though Health Canada in 1995 mandated full funding for abortion care at both hospitals and private clinics.

“Abortion is a simple procedure that doesn’t require a lot of resources to provide, so the PEI government has no excuse to not provide it on the Island,” said Arthur. “Our message to PEI Premier Robert Ghiz and Health Minister Doug Currie is: Enough! Women in Prince Edward Island have the same rights as women in other provinces. You should be ashamed of yourselves for needlessly risking the health and lives of PEI women in deference to a so-called ‘pro-life’ ideology. Stop hurting and punishing women and start helping them instead!”

Other leading groups in the ad hoc coalition for the Oct 20 Reproductive Justice Day include the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization (PRRO), and the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC).

  • The flagship event for the national day takes place in Charlottetown, with a kick-off press conference on Friday Oct 19 (12:15pm, Room 125, Royalty Centre, 40 Enman Crescent, Charlottetown), and a march and “Action Station” event on Oct 20
    (1-4pm, Rochford Square & Murphy’s Community Centre).
  • Another signature event for the national day takes place in Toronto on Oct 20 – a rally from 1-3pm at Old City Hall, 60 Queen Street West.

#####

For the list of demands for the Oct. 20 National Day for Reproductive Justice, see: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/RJ-day-demands.pdf.

See our website: http://oct20rjday.wordpress.com  for more information on reproductive justice and the October 20 day, as well as details on events across the country.

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada

Canada’s only national political pro-choice advocacy group

POB 2663, Station Main, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3W3  •  info@arcc-cdac.ca  •  http://www.arcc-cdac.ca

For all my sisters

the regina mom gives thanks this weekend for all the women who work to make this world a better place, be that in the world at large, in the home and community or within herself.

 

There’s a global war on women.

 

Even though we women make up 52 per cent of the global population and we own only one per cent of the land, we survive.

 

Even though climate change impacts women around the world more harshly (try gathering wood, food, water in a drought zone or flood zone every day), we survive.

 

Even though we earn 73 per cent the wages of men and are over-represented in part-time, low-pay jobs, and even though the world economies once counted us as chattel and told us our work was not work, we survive.

 

Even though cooking, cleaning and caregiving, the three Cs of women’s work, are worth between $234 and $374 billion in labour that remains unpaid, and even though we never received the national childcare program we were promised and yet we still find time to fill the gaps when governments offload services onto communities and families, we survive.

 

Even though, right here in Saskatchewan, one child in five — a full 20 per cent — live without adequate food, shelter and clothing, and even though more than 43,000 of our children live in poverty and 60 per cent of children living in households headed by a lone woman live in poverty, and children around the world continue to live in deep poverty, we survive.

 

Even though governments dismally fail to acknowledge our inequality, respect our issues — or even hear our voices — and instead, privatize economic decision-making, grant corporations more rights and less taxes, doctor documents, cut funding to programs, close doors to our organizations, oppose same sex marriages, peel back our reproductive rights, ignore our human rights, spurn and deride us, tell us to “go slowly,” that we’re “too radical” and dismiss us as “dumb bitches” or “Feminazis,” we survive.

 

Even though violence against us is epidemic the world over — we are assaulted emotionally, psychologically, physically, sexually — even though 50 per cent of us will experience violence to our person in our lifetime and we have sisters, daughters, grand-daughters who are treated as illegal goods to be trafficked and sold into sexual slavery, and even though we are stoned to death, gunned down, disappeared or murdered, we survive.

 

Even though we live our lives in the global war waged against us right here and right now, as it has for centuries — even though we die daily, we survive.

 

We survive because we are strong.

 

We are strong because we are one community. We are one community with a diverse population: women of colour, Indigenous, Métis women, who have immigrated, emigrated, who are refugees, who are urban, rural, peasant, homeless women, are mothers, grandmothers, child-free, who are sex workers, waged workers, volunteer workers, who are lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, are religious, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, women with disabilities, healing powers, visions, who are older, younger, middle-aged…

 

We survive because we are coming to know the power of diversity, to know our power as women. And we know that our time to wield power is at hand.  Watch us.

 

c. Bernadette Wagner

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