#NDP ‘extremely concerned’ Kenney supports #M312

the regina mom‘s adopted MP, Niki Ashton, speaks what the regina mom‘s Conservative MP will not.

NDP ‘extremely concerned’ Kenney supports ‘abortion’ debate | CTV News.

“What irks so many Canadians,” Ashton said, “is the fact that they believed Stephen Harper, but what they’re seeing … doesn’t reflect what they heard from the prime minister.”

Suggesting that the ruling Conservatives have used private member’s bills to propel their party’s agenda in the past, Ashton suggested Woodworth’s motion should never have gotten this far.

Ashton said the fact it has, indicates the ruling Conservatives aren’t as averse to the debate as they’ve suggested.

“Here we have a senior cabinet minister … we know that is close to the prime minister, who has clearly said that he will be supporting this motion. If that doesn’t challenge the statement that this government isn’t willing to reopen the debate I don’t know what does.”

UPDATE: LeadNow.ca is raising immediate funds to place an ad in Wednesday’s Ottawa Citizen.  Please contribute if you are able!

Women have always been workers

The following piece appeared in the May/June 2007 issue of Canadian Dimension magazine. Sadly, the situation for women and unpaid work has become worse, not better. Right wing governments in Saskatchewan and Canada continue to dump unpaid work on communities and families and women in an attempt to rationalize cuts on social spending.

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Women’s” Work: Unnoticed, Unrecognized, Unpaid

A discussion about labour is incomplete without some acknowledgment of the unpaid work performed by women. The traditional work women do, the three Cs – cooking, cleaning, caring – continue to be largely ignored thanks to long-standing sexist definitions of work. It’s almost as though the work women do to keep families healthy and functional, to move the economy through its cycles, and to make the world a somewhat caring and nurturing place really doesn’t matter. Capital, after more than three centuries of greed continues to pressure governments to create conditions for increased profitmaking, conditions which do not benefit women and which increase women’s unpaid work. Even the small gains of recent years are under constant attack by both capital and governments. Women’s groups know that if women are to reach a point of equality with men in this country, or anywhere in the world for that matter, then women’s unpaid work must be honoured in very real ways. Women carry on.

Defining Work

Societal definitions of paid work are based on sexist definitions established centuries ago. When our monetary system developed women were chattel; the work women performed preparing meals, cleaning homes, and raising children was not remunerated. As a result, it was excluded from economic records and, as the economic system developed, their work continued — and continues — to be excluded.

The economic value of the unpaid work women do is huge and must be acknowledged. According to Manitoba’s United Nations Platform for Action Committee (UNPAC) Canadian women’s unpaid work is an amount equivalent to as much as 41% of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product. The time women spend doing voluntary/community labour and household labour in Canada, according to a pilot study in Nova Scotia, is the equivalent of 571,000 full-year, full-time jobs. Even Statistics Canada (StatsCan) suggests a number anywhere from $234 to $374 billion worth of unpaid work is performed by women each year. Globally, the amount skyrockets to 11 trillion dollars, just a fraction more than what we know the US has spent on its illegal invasion of Iraq.

Decades of research and lobbying by women’s equality-seeking groups and others has had minimal impact. Governments are loathe to address the issue. Only recently did StatsCan begin gathering information about women’s unpaid work and that gathering is not thorough. The research documents only three areas of unpaid work: housework, childcare, and senior care. The time women spend building their communities — serving meals at a fowl supper, serving as a board member at the childcare centre, or volunteering at the women’s shelter — is not included in the numbers. Still, all is not lost. Researchers have developed ways to use the data that is gathered to make points about what is not. The gaps and absenses have proven useful in critiquing policy and for envisioning new policies.

Global Capital at Work

It is global capital that benefits from women’s unpaid work. As capital seeks increased profits, governments increasingly bend to the corporate lobby, adhering to neo-liberal and neo-conservative economic policies, downsizing or privatizing programs that seek to re-dress imbalances. Women bear the brunt of this greed.

Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government, when it took power in BC, almost immediately dismantled one of the most progressive elements of the its provincial government, the Women’s Department. What little remained of it was rolled into the Community Services Department. In effect, all funding to all of B.C.’s women’s shelters ceased and the amount unpaid work by women as well as the incidents of poverty among women increased.

In Saskatchewan, Calvert’s NDP government almost annihilated the Women’s Secretariat in its purge of policy analysts a few years ago. An immediate public outcry from Saskatchewan women forced the creation of a Status of Women Office (SWO). It was placed within the Department of Labour which, according to the Assistant Deputy Minister at the time, was “completely unable to absorb” it. The strategy moved many feminist researchers and analysts out of policy areas and, in some cases, out of government completely which could be part of a ploy to remove the last of Keynesian analysis from the bureaucracy. Indeed, in January 2007 the Saskatchewan government received great praise and front page headlines courtesy the Fraser Institute for completely reversing 50 years of economic policy. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that programs to enhance the lives of women in Saskatchewan ended or that the province’s child poverty rate is among the highest in the country.

Similarly, Status of Women Canada (SWC), recently attacked by the New Conservative Government of Canada impacts women’s unpaid work. The job cuts, funding restrictions, and removal of the word equality from funding guidelines will mean that research work formerly conducted by paid staff within SWC and within SWC-funded organizations will either not be conducted or will be done by volunteers. Without the research and lobbying the door is open for global capital to gain more ground.

It’s as though governments of the day believe that cutting funding and support makes the need for the service nonexistent. But smaller communities of people – women – fill the gaps..

A Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) report about the privatization of public services urges that women “not be made to bear the greatest costs of declining labour market conditions — less unionization, lower wages, fewer benefits, weaker workplace rights, more precarious employment, uncertain work hours.” Women should not be forced to take on more unpaid work when public services erode and men must “take more responsibility in the home.” This would have the effect of allowing women to “become more engaged in community organizing and political action in order to lobby for more and better public services.” Trade unions could play an important role alongside women’s and social justice groups in “building broad community-based coalitions” in opposition to privatization and in actively promoting “the improvement of public services in order to promote greater social and economic equality.”

The obvious economic impact on women – the continued cycle of poverty – is compounded by psycho-social implications on women and their children which result in chronic illness, early death, poor children, poor school performance. That means higher societal costs for healthcare. The National Crime Prevention Council of Canada suggests that poor school performance is the “best and most stable predictor of adult involvement in criminal activity.” And that means higher educational and criminal justice costs.

Women’s Response

All the attacks on women’s lives and the double-duty days haven’t stopped women from organizing for change. Over the past decade or more, women’s response has been building locally and globally. Organizations such as UNPAC, the Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA) and the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) have come into being to demand accountability from the governments on the commitments made to women under international human rights treaties and agreements, including the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA) and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The World Women’s March in 2000 brought forth The Feminist Dozen, 13 items that the federal government must address to reduce women’s poverty in this country.

The World Women’s March Feminist Dozen

Women in Canada Call on the Federal Government to:

  1. Restore federal funding to health care and enforce the rules against the privatization of our health care system, beginning with Alberta.
  2. Spend an additional 1% of the budget on social housing.
  3. Set up the promised national child-care fund, starting with an immediate contribution of $2 billion.
  4. Increase Old Age Security payments to provide older women with a decent standard of living.
  5. Use the surplus from the Employment Insurance Fund to increase benefits, provide longer payment periods and improve access, as well as improve maternity and family benefits.
  6. Support women’s organizing for equality and democracy by:
    • allocating $50 million to front-line, independent, feminist, women-controlled groups committed to ending violence against women, such as women’s centres, rape crisis centres and women’s shelters;
    • recognizing and funding the three autonomous national Aboriginal women’s organisations to ensure full participation in all significant public policy decisions as well as providing adequate funding to Aboriginal women’s services, including shelters, in all rural, remote and urban Aboriginal communities;
    • funding a national meeting of lesbians to discuss and prioritise areas for legislative and public policy reform;
    • providing $30 million in core funding for equality-seeking women’s organizations, which represents only $2.00 for every woman and girl child in Canada – our Fair Share
  7. Fund consultations with a wide range of women’s equality-seeking organizations prior to all legislative reform of relevance to women’s security and equality rights, beginning with the Criminal Code and ensure access for women from marginalized communities.
  8. Implement a progressive immigration reform to provide domestic workers with full immigration status on arrival, abolish the “head tax” on all immigrants and include persecution on the basis of gender and sexual orientation as grounds for claiming refugee status.
  9. Contribute to the elimination of poverty around the world by supporting the cancellation of the debts of the 53 poorest countries and increasing Canada’s international development aid to 0.7% of the Gross National Product
  10. Adopt national standards which guarantee the right to welfare for everyone in need and ban workfare.
  11. Recognize the ongoing exclusion of women with disabilities from economic, political and social life and take the essential first step of ensuring and funding full access for women with disabilities to all consultations on issues of relevance to women.
  12. Establish a national system of grants based on need, not merit, to enable access to post-secondary education and reduce student debt.
  13. Adopt proactive pay equity legislation.

 

To date, not one of the recommendations has been fully implemented.

GWS is an organization of women from more than 60 countries, working to improve conditions for women, worldwide. Their first stated demand is “Payment for all caring work – in wages, pensions, land & other resources. What is more valuable than raising children & caring for others? Invest in life & welfare, not military budgets or prisons.”

Nearly 1.2 billion hours of women’s time each year is spent on fundamental work that goes unnoticed, unrecognized, and undervalued, thanks to archaic definitions of paid work. Public programs and services that seek to redress imbalances are under constant attack by global capital. Programs that support necessary public services for women and children are dismantled, never to appear again, or reappear as watered-down versions of what they once were. Women work harder and suffer greater hardships as a result. Still, women carry on with their work and with resisting oppression. Only constant and continued pressure from all sectors of society will ensure equity is reached.

Legitimate what?

Over the past couple of days, the regina mom has read a number of pieces, some humourous, in response to a statement by US Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri,  regarding the medieval concept of legitimate rape.

How long has this no-pregnancy-in-rape theory been around?
“The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant has long roots,” says Vanessa Heggie at Britain’s The Guardian. Think 13th century. One of the earliest British legal texts — Fleta, from about 1290 — has this familiar-sounding clause: “If, however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.” Samuel Farr’s Elements of Medical Jurisprudence, a treatise from 1785 (second edition 1814), elaborates: “For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”

What’s the medical underpinning of this theory?
From medieval times until the 19th century, doctors and laypeople alike widely believed that women only conceived if they had an orgasm, since the presumed female “seed” — needed to complement the male sperm to achieve pregnancy — was thought be secreted only during sexual climax. “By logical extension, then,” says Heggie, “if a woman became pregnant, she must have experienced orgasm, and therefore could not have been the victim of an ‘absolute rape’.”

Interestingly, and in stark contrast to what the right wing nut jobs (RWNJ) in the US have been saying, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon recently shared their findings into a hormone that’s present in semen. They now believe it “nudges a woman’s body to ovulate.”

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Saskatoon-based researchers and their colleagues in Chile went sleuthing in llamas and cows for the identity of a seminal fluid protein they’d previously found sends a signal to a female’s brain. That signal prompts the female brain to release hormones that stimulate ovulation.

Veterinary biomedical sciences Prof. Gregg Adams, who is with the university’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says he expected to find a brand new protein in the seminal fluid. Much to their surprise, they found this poorly-understood protein (called ovulation-inducing factor or OIF) is the same molecule as an old friend in the nervous system that’s critical for normal neuron function.

the regina mom cannot wait to see how the RWNJs respond to this piece of legitimate science!

Sex Stereotyping @ Industry Canada

the regina mom is blogging this from an email message she received this afternoon.  She should never be surprised by the HarperCons, but yet again, she is.

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This past weekend the Corporations Canada website was down for upgrading/maintenance.  The new website has a spiffy new video introduction.  The text is innocuous:

Screen 1:  Start a business.  Be your own boss.  We can show you how.

Screen 2:  Find Permits & Licenses.  Get what you need to run your business.

[Naturally, they use the American spelling of “licence”.  In Canada, we
issue licences to entities we have licensed.]

Screen 3:  Business Finance.  Ready to grow?  We can help.

Not to get too wound up in semiotics, take a look at what the images linked
to these screens portray:

Screen 1 – young white male, very happy.

Screen 2:  young black male, very focussed on the horizon.

Screen 3A:  “Business Finance” – young white male, standing doing nothing.

Screen 3B:  young white male, being asked if he is ready to grow?

Screen 3C:  Young white male now joined by young non-white female, who
declares “we can help”.  (Could this really be an innuendo-laden joke?)

Then at the bottom of this page, there is another picture.  What do we see
here?  Seven people, of which four appear to be women, and the one who
appears to speaking from a position of authority is – again – young and
white and male.  It looks good to see that there are so many women, until
you realize that only two of the six people who are presumably taking
instructions from the young white male are also male – so more woman than
men need guidance?

So how far have women in Canada come ..

– 41 years after the report by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
(whose current federal website declares, “As we look back on these decades
of change in the status of women, and mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal
Commission report, it’s important to consider how far women have come.”
http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/dates/roycom/index-eng.html), and

– 26 years after the CRTC’s policy on gender portrayal in broadcasting (and
recall that the internet is a form of broadcasting, that the CRTC has
exempted from regualtion).

The answer is that we have come to the point where young men are still seen
as being in charge of launching and financing businesses in this country,
while women are still viewed as existing only to serve or service them.

Considering how much the Conservatives need the female vote, it is
interesting to see how the Industry Minister’s staff thought this was the
best way to reach that vote.

Radical Handmaids

Today, on Parliament Hill, the Radical Handmaids  gather in opposition to Motion 312, the anti-choice motion that seeks to redefine when human life begins. The Motion will be debated in the House of Commons on Thursday.

The Handmaids’ action, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is sure to be an interesting one.

Sporting red garments and “Flying Nun” hats in an allusion to Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the Handmaids are protesting Bill M-312 as a regressive attack on women.

 

“The Handmaid’s Tale shouldn’t be an instruction manual,” said one young woman, who identified herself only as “OfStephen” (“Woodworth or Harper, take your pick”).

 

In Atwood’s novel, set in a futuristic America transformed by religious fundamentalists into the Republic of Gilead, women are judged by whether or not they are capable of bearing children and, if fertile, are enslaved to men of the ruling elite who forcibly impregnate them.

 

“We’re watching what’s going on in the United States with the war on women and we know the Conservatives are trying to sneak it up here,” said another OfStephen, standing in front of a display of brightly-coloured knitted uteruses.

Supporters across the country have been sending the Handmaids knitted wombs and vulvas, using patterns available on the Internet. When they have enough, the Handmaids say they will deliver the woolly parts to any MPs who vote in favour of Woodworth’s bill.

 

“If they want to control our uteruses so badly, they can have a womb of their own,” said OfStephen.

the regina mom applauds the Handmaids on their radical action.  Oh, if only she could be there to join in! (Read their full news release here.)

Just a Prochoice Poet Doing Her Thing

And more, perhaps.

As some of you may already know, the regina mom has taken to occasionally performing at the local slam poetry event in Regina, Word Up Wednesday.  This Wednesday, April 25, she will be there with new and old poems to share and be judged on.  She would love to see friends in the audience!

As well, watch this space — and others in the Canadian Progressive Voices blogosphere and beyond — for a blogburst on Motion 312, the motion put forward by a religious zealot in the House of Commons.  If passed M312 will re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

You can read more about the blogburst over at my friends’ place.

Starting today, all bloggers who support a woman’s right to choose can and should blog fiercely about this CONservative, regressive attack on women’s right to choose.

Rest assured, there will be many posts to read, covering many different angles on the issue — angles I hadn’t thought of before becoming active in the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada / Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement Canada and reading the multitude of materials available there.

If you haven’t already done so, please download, print and sign the petition in opposition to M312.  As signatures roll in the petition will be presented to the House of Commons by various prochoice Members of Parliament over the next while.  the regina mom managed to gather almost 20 signatures last night just by pulling it out of her purse!  Someone else did all the work getting her friends to sign.  Thanks for that, Karen!

And now I’m off to my sunshiny garden to contemplate what will be planted where this year.

On the same issue, 25 years later

In the 80’s, it was the Devine regime provincially and the Mulroney machine federally that moved the regina mom into political activism.  The issue of reproductive rights got her involved in the women’s movement of the day.  And here she is, more than 25 years later, again working on that file.

On Thursday, April 26, the House of Commons is scheduled to debate MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312 which ultimately seeks to make abortion illegal.  If passed, the abortion debate in Canada will officially be re-opened.

never again coat hanger image

Never Again*

Yes, one year ago the Prime Minister said he wouldn’t re-open the debate.  But, do you trust him?  Does any Canadian woman believe him?  the regina mom doesn’t.

That’s why she’s been working with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada to mobilize women across the nation.  Already, more than 11,500 have signed our digital petition. It’s heartwarming, really, to know that so many support the efforts of a few dedicated volunteers and, more importantly, the right of a woman to control her own body.

ARCC has now decided to initiate a signature drive on a hard copy of the petition. This will allow it be part of the public record via the House of Commons.  ARCC has contacted various prochoice Members of Parliament of different political stripes for assistance. the regina mom encourages you to contact your Member of Parliament to see where s/he stands on the issue of women’s reproductive freedom.

And, the regina mom  would love it if you would help out, too. Arm yourself with information. Then, take a moment to print out the petition (PDF) on 8.5 x 14 paper, invite your family / friends / co-workers to sign it and then send it to the ARCC.  We’ll make sure it gets to a prochoice MP for presentation to the House.

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*When abortions were illegal, women would use any means at their disposal to terminate a pregnancy.  Coat hangers were easily accessible and often used.  Women died as a result of botched abortions.  The graphic, Never Again, is the ProChoice movement’s statement that we will stand guard so that we will never again go back to those times.

Taking time to celebrate IWD

iwd poster

Celebrating the Arts on

International Women’s Day

7:30 pm Thursday March 8 @ The Artesian

Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting ~ Sacred Web Sask ~ Brenda Niskala ~ Susana Deranger ~ Mirtha Rivera ~ Cassidy McFadzean ~ Belle Plaine ~ Tara Solheim ~ All Beings Confluence Art Installation & more

All Proceeds to the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan

Tickets By Donation ($50 Suggested)

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Doors Open 7pm
Program Begins 7:30pm

Cash Bar

Produced by the regina mom
bprintink (at) sasktel (dot) net
306.550.7023

Performance Tonight!

Vertigo Reading Series Posterthe regina mom is pumped for a performance at the Vertigo Reading Series tonight in Regina.  She’s edited this poem and will slip it into the mix because she has to try out the change and thinks it will fit into her love-themed, genre-hopping set list.

 

trm‘s favourite guitar guy will be on hand to accompany her on a performance piece, “Love Song for Emma Lake,” an earlier version of which you may have caught at the Regina Folk Festival or a Briarpatch Magazine fundraiser a few years ago.

 

It’ll be an eclectic mix of kidlit, poetry, performance and song.  See you there! 7:30 pm Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Ave.

A political poetry break

the regina mom participated in the Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC) Global Justice Poetry Slam last week. This poem got her into the second round where a false start netted her a wicked time count violation that knocked her out of the competition.

This week, she gets to try again. SCIC recorded the performances in Regina and the ones in Saskatoon, too. You can see them at YouTube and vote for your favourites. Vote for trm by clicking the thumbs-up under her piece at YouTube.