Members of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women are meeting this week in Charlottetown for a regular meeting and to participate in Women in Canada Study Group.
At the Council’s last meeting, in February, members had a visit from the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Hon. Paula Biggar, and the director of the Interministerial Women’s Secretariat, Michelle Harris-Genge. Council members were very pleased to share some key messages with Minister Biggar from the members’ planning and discussion.
Here are some of the messages members shared with Minister Biggar in February:
- The need to empower girls within their own communities and schools to have a healthy sense of self-worth. Their sense of self-worth is affected by a culture that still values boys more than girls and in turn affects their relationships and their prospects for public leadership.
- Information on abortion and sexual health services and other reproductive services must be freely available and must be clear, comprehensive, and non-judgmental and accessible. This means both on-line and in navigation supports. The search functions that lead to sexual and reproductive health services should be based on the real way people look for information online, especially young people, knowing that they may begin and end their search at Google.
- The urgent need to bring the pilot project on a Basic Income Guarantee for Prince Edward Island. Council notes the recent unanimous motion of the Legislative Assembly in support of the Province working with the federal government to bring about this pilot project.
- We need strategies to find and allocate funding for programs and services and supports to find services when we need them and navigate through these systems. A health system navigator role has recently been created. Similar navigations are needed for many services and circumstances. For example, a woman leaving a situation of violence needs navigation that connects her with community and government services without her needing to tell her story multiple times. Some examples of programs and services Council discussed today include the following:
- Legal aid
- Youth addictions
- Mental health
- Seniors’ supports
- Relationship breakdown
- Women’s NGOs (for example, Women’s Network)
- Anderson House and family violence outreach
- Caregivers (mostly women)
- Sexual assault
- and many others
- Real inclusion in government and public life of all genders, ethnicities, and geographical areas, to improve our Island community. This includes ensuring rural communities have equal access to services; development of all regions of the province is important.
- We want government to address the need for advocates in roles independent of government. An independent child advocate is one example of this kind of independent advocate, but not the only possible kind of advocate. Independence from government systems is important to us.
- Ensure that survivors of sexual violence and gender-based violence are met at their first point of contact with services with a trauma-informed, “believe survivors” mentality. For example, we want PEI to ensure local police services address the high rate of “unfounded” cases of sexual violence and ensure resources and training are available to have police and others follow best practices.
- Council wants to feel part of meaningful consultations that ensure the wisdom of the community about needs and solutions reaches decision-makers and is used to bring about pro-active change and make lives better for women and all Islanders.