Posts Tagged ‘substantive equality’

We encourage everyone to check out this amazing event! Always really fun, interesting and inspiring. FLF members should check their email for a very generous and exciting opportunity to attend for free, courtesy of RH’s own Dean Turnbull.

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A huge thank you to everyone who supported our bake sale and clothing drive yesterday! We raised over $170 for LEAF’s Bertah Wilson Fund, and collected an impressive amount of clothing and products for the Elizabeth Fry Society.

We also got some interesting feedback from our ‘share your thoughts’ posters, which we thought we’d post here in case you didn’t get a chance to have a look in person. Here they are in all their unedited, anonymous glory. On that note, we’d love to keep the discussion going, so please feel free to comment!

Question: In 2010, Justice Himel (Ont SCJ) struck down the living on the avails, bawdy house, and solicitation provisions of the Criminal Code. Does Justice Himel’s decision promote women’s equality?

Your thoughts:

– “This is step 1 – ie., letting these women come to the law for help. Step 2 is putting programs in place to better insure safety and health”

– “It has the potential to promote women’s equality, but without a comprehensive program to address these issues, women’s equality will be stalled”

Question: Women make up 14% of corporate boards in Canada. The EU is considering mandatory quotas for women on corporate boards. If Canada followed the EU’s example, would it promote gender equality?

Your thoughts:

– “No. the % is  much lower in Europe. This is only an issue today, but i believe the problem will be solved organically in very short order as more women hired in the 80s and 90s make it to upper management positions at our major corporations. The corporate elite will probably be unrecognizably diverse within 10 years.”

– “[arrow indicating direct response to previous comment] that’s something of a ridiculous assumption. The diversity of the corporate elite hasn’t changed much in the last one hundred years. There is very little support for an argument it will change radically in the next 10 yrears.”

– “No – even if the women deserved to be there, there would be underlying rumours that they were only there because of quotas. Better to earn it honestly. Time will even it out.”

Question: Quebec’s Bill 94 would refuse reasonable accomodation to niqab-wearing women receiving or providing public services. Does Bill 94 promote gender equality?

Your thoughts:

– “no”

– “I second that”

– “It doesn’t support equality of any kind”

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It is such a busy time for feminist news and events that we at the FLF can barely keep up! Today, I decided to take a break from my own rage when it comes to sexual assault law and turn my attention to the recent appointments to the Supreme Court. The good news is that if you get behind on feminist news topics, it means that lots of incredibly smart feminists have already said really great things about it, and you can just share their wisdom.

So, on that note, I bring you a post on Blogging for Equality from University of Ottawa Professor Jenna McGill. Prof. McGill’s post considers gender balance on the bench, and questions Kirk Makin, the Globe and Mail justice reporter, who stated that the appointment of Andromache Karakatsanis “would forestall feminist criticism by maintaining the court’s complement of female judges at four.” As Prof. McGill says, “Sorry Mr. Makin; we’re not that easy to shut up.”

Read the post here.

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On Thursday Nov. 25, Bev Froese from the Public Interest Law Center ran our final roundtable event for the 2010 calendar year.


Bev’s presentation focused on the 2004 Human Rights Complaint on behalf of women inmates regarding the alleged discrimination based on sex, race and disability at the hands of the Portage Correctional Facility. The case had two main issues. First, women’s unique needs were not being met by the prison facility. Secondly, women were not being treated equal to male prisoners in other Manitoba facilities.


Almost immediately the question arises: What is Equality?   Is it treating everyone the same?? Or treating people differently to reach the same outcome?? Can it be both??


One of the most obvious violations taking place surrounded the need for women to have pre-natal vitamins available to them within the prison. This is a unique need that only women require, so although these vitamins are not offered to any prisoner in Manitoba regardless of their sex it becomes quite clear that the outcome of this decision is one of sexual discrimination.


Portage Correctional also has no ramp or elevator access for disabled individuals to access the facility which is clearly discrimination. There were also issues surrounding the lack of mental disability programming and the ways in which the staff dealt with inmates who suffered from various addictions or mental disabilities. One of the racial discrimination arguments against the facility rested quite heavily on the lack of cultural workers and cultural support being offered to the inmates.


Ultimately a settlement was reached through mediation which allows for the Women’s Program Advisory Committee to improve the short term and keep an eye on the long term goals and needs of the inmates. There will be a new prison facility built in the near future that should address the physical needs of inmates. The agreement also promised to develop specialized programs for women, increase support for aboriginal women and increase the availability of sacred spaces.


The roundtable finished with a short discussion about confronting myths around equality in an effort to normalize the ideas and take substantive equality out of a “special” category and into everyday life.

So how do we draw attention to the special needs of groups of individuals without having the rest of society feel that the group is getting special attention or benefiting unfairly at everyone else’s expense??

Just some food for thought…

*Jocelyn Turnbull is a second-year student at Robson Hall. She spent her summer working for the Manitoba Bar Association.


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According to statements made by the Equal Pay Coalition (http://www.equalpaycoalition.org/what_is.php) and statistics Canada, Canadian women make an average of 29% less than men.  A statistic that is worsened in cases involving racial minority women (who earn an average of 36% less than men) and Aboriginal women (who earn an average of 54% less than men).
I spent a significant amount of time this summer discussing the issues of discrimination and equality in Canada with Canadian youth.  The focus of these discussions varied from person to person and touched on everything from unequal opportunities for immigrants and refugees to discrimination towards youth in convenience stores.  Surprisingly, sexism was generally not a common point of discussion; that is until the issue of pay equity was raised.  Whenever I spoke with young persons about the wage inequalities that exist in Canada, they could not believe it, especially since our society has seemingly made a conscious effort to tell women that they are equal, that they are just as capable and worth just as much as men.
Whether it be from their teachers, parents, or other authoritative figures, young women often stated that they had been told extensively that they were equally as valuable as men. However, being told one thing and being paid another seemed to leave many young women angered and confused by the contradiction. In a country that delegates so much time and attention to its economy and dollar worth, how can it promote equality when it has blatantly affixed a lower price tag on its female citizens than its male citizens? 

* Meghan Menzies is a 2nd year student at Robson Hall. She spent her summer working at PILC in Winnipeg. Her dance moves are notoriously awesome.

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Apologies for the link overload (there’s real, great content coming very soon!) but I discovered this via the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies website.


This is an awesome project that will interest anyone who follows equality issues, enjoys Charter law or simply likes the idea of playing Chief Justice for a day.

I’ll let the Women’s Court describe itself:

“The Women’s Court of Canada is an innovative project bringing together academics, activists, and litigators in order literally to rewrite the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms equality jurisprudence. Taking inspiration from Oscar Wilde, who once said “the only duty we owe to history is to rewrite it”, the Women’s Court operates as a virtual court, and ‘reconsiders’ leading equality decisions. The Women’s Court renders alternative decisions as a means of articulating fresh conceptions of substantive equality.

The first 6 decisions of the Women’s Court were published in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law: (2006) 18 C.J.W.L. 27.”

A good way to get your daily dose of substantive equality (especially if you’re not getting it elsewhere!)

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