Canada's Feminists Tighten Ranks Top Activist Targets Sexual Discrimination, Poverty, Racism, and Violence against Women. INTERVIEW

By Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 4, 1992 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Canada's Feminists Tighten Ranks Top Activist Targets Sexual Discrimination, Poverty, Racism, and Violence against Women. INTERVIEW


Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FLYING around Canada giving speeches and rallying women to the banner of equality, Judy Rebick is leading a feminist charge that has a lot of people mad at her.

But as president of the Toronto-based National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), the nation's largest women's group, Ms. Rebick says she cannot afford a thin skin.

That's good because NAC gets as well as it gives. In June, for example, NAC's first leader, who headed the group decades ago, denounced it for not being militant enough. Last month, however, some of its demands were called "shrill" and "strident" by a conservative columnist.

Caught in the crossfire, Ms. Rebick, who sports a quick smile and a faster retort, seems unaffected. Her group's agenda is too large for her to slow down and worry about such criticism. Combatting violence and discrimination toward women are top priorities along with fighting the "feminization of poverty," she says.

All three issues are crystallizing in Canada's public consciousness, she says, just as the 21-year-old Canadian women's movement has begun in the last two-to-five years to coalesce into a tighter, more cohesive political force. Society resists change

"Canadian society has been more resistant to change in a lot of ways than other Western societies, and as a result the women's movement has had to fight harder and therefore become stronger," Rebick says. "I think there is a strengthening of women fighting for their rights everywhere around the world. But I think the Canadian women's movement is fairly unusual in its strength."

Propelling NAC and the nation's women's movement, Rebick says, are shifts in Canada:

* The rise of the New Democratic Party, which has long supported many women's goals, and has lent legitimacy to many of them, including the push for a national day-care system.

* Laissez-faire economics embraced by the conservative government, and increasingly unpopular in Canada, are seen as the cause of many of the harsh economic problems facing women, especially minority women.

* Societal sensitivities, changing as Canada has become a more multicultural society, have meshed with women's concerns about discrimination and racism.

"The combination of all those things and our ability to organize brought a new credibility to the women's movement," Rebick says. "I think we saw that through the constitutional debate."

Lobbying the federal government on behalf of affiliated groups nationwide, NAC is not a group composed of individual members as is the National Organization of Women in the United States. NAC has built a web of affiliations with about 500 of the more than 2,500 women's groups in Canada.

Four million to 5 million women are active in the Canadian women's movement. Groups linked to NAC include 3 million women or more, says Jill Vickers, a professor of political science at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Now in her third year as president of NAC, Rebick says the greater prominence women's views took during constitutional meetings in cities across Canada this year shows their growing influence.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Canada's Feminists Tighten Ranks Top Activist Targets Sexual Discrimination, Poverty, Racism, and Violence against Women. INTERVIEW
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?