STATUS OF WOMEN COUNCILS MEET ON NATIONAL ISSUES
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE – For the first time in its history, the national Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Advisory Councils on the Status of Women held its annual meeting outside Ottawa. Their October consultation, hosted in Charlottetown by the Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women, provided an on-the-ground view of how Status of Women Councils provide a bridge between community groups and government systems that are tasked to work to improve the status of Canadian women. During their meeting, the Coalition put a priority on national and federal issues that affect women across Canada.
“No matter how effective provincial and territorial Advisory Councils are, there are always national dimensions to the work we do towards women’s equality,” says PEI’s Chairperson, Isabelle Christian, who chaired the Coalition meeting. “Women across Canada tell their provincial and territorial Advisory Councils that they need national child care programs, anti-poverty strategies, support for programs and services to end violence against women, equal rights for Aboriginal women, and affordable, accessible, and safe housing.”
“These national issues have federal dimensions. They require shared ideas and resources among the provinces and territories to develop a national viewpoint,” says Coalition co-chairperson Marlene Bertrand from the Manitoba Council. “The PEI meeting gave us a window into the links between what women are experiencing in their homes and communities and what they expect as support from their governments.”
A highlight of the Prince Edward Island meeting was a networking and workshopping luncheon with PEI’s Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Hon. Valerie Docherty, and other invited guests, including other female PEI MLAs, a female band chief and other First Nations community leaders, current and former Chairpersons of the PEI Status of Women, Status of Women Council members, and leaders from community-based women’s organizations. The luncheon honoured Charlottetown lawyer Daphne Dumont, a recent recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
During the meetings, a special presentation by Christiane Pelchat, the inspiring Présidente of the Québec Conseil du statut de la femme, outlined current work by the Quebec council to shore up hard-won equality measures and to get ahead of emerging challenges to equality in Quebec.
A consultation with Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Egmont (PEI) MP Gail Shea, provided unique insight into strategies to get more women into elected positions at all levels of government. As a former provincial Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Shea also shared a perspective on Status of Women Councils’ role in advising on the issues they hear provincially and territorially in national forums.
“At its meeting next year, the Coalition plans to invite senior federal officials to meet with the Coalition members on high-priority issues that emerge over the coming months,” says Coalition co-chairperson Linda Ross, from the Newfoundland and Labrador Council. “The Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Advisory Councils on the Status of Women will continue to be effective in national debates by sharing what it hears from Canadian women and their families.”
The Coalition of Advisory Councils on the Status of Women formed after 1995, when the federal government eliminated the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women.