Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Promises and Politics: Implementing Canada's Equality Commitments [Resources on Women's Rights and Documents That Came out of Several International Women's Conferences]

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Promises and Politics: Implementing Canada's Equality Commitments [Resources on Women's Rights and Documents That Came out of Several International Women's Conferences]

Article excerpt

This article examines the shifts in strategies and tactics necessary to ensure the implementation of international agreements undertaken at UN Women's Conferences, starting with Nairobi in 1985 and ending with Beijing in 1995. The author suggests that many women do not know of the commitments made by the Canadian government to eliminate discrimination against women, and provides information and resources to help in the ongoing struggle for women's equality.

Cet article examine les changements au niveau des strategies et des tactiques necessaires a assurer que les accords signes lors des conferences de femmes des Nations Unies (de Nairobi, en 1985, a Pekin, en 1995) soient executes. L'auteure suggere que bon nombre de femmes ne sont pas au courant du fait que le gouvernement canadien s'est engage a eliminer la discrimination envers les femmes; elle offre de l'information et des ressources qui aideront la lutte continue pour l'egalite des femmes.

[Note: I met Kathleen in the fall of 1985, shortly after returning from the Nairobi NGO Forum. I was working out ways to tell women's groups about what Canada had promised in Nairobi to do for women's equality, and guest editing a special double issue of Atlantis on feminist peace work. Kathleen sent in an article. We became pen pals.

We met in person two years later in Montreal teaching at Concordia University. Underemployed overachievers, keen feminists and inveterate activists, we became inseparable. Kathleen, her dog Jacob and I spent every Sunday walking for hours in a new part of the city and talking about politics, justice, teaching, life, love, reading and writing. Later we all lived in Alberta; I remember our first New Year's Eve together there, watching "Return of the Killer Tomatoes." Kathleen had away of expanding your horizons. She was a model for me, of what an intellectual life could be, of passion for justice applied practically, and after she and Melody met, of what a perfect match between two people could be.

If she had been here when I wrote this piece, I would have asked her to read it. I pretend she is away on a trip, with no access to e-mail. -- Barbara Roberts]

The Next Stage for Women's Groups

Many people working in women's groups do not know that all top levels of Canadian governments (federal, provincial, and territorial) have made public commitments at United Nations world conferences to bring about equality, development and peace for women by the year 2000.

When Canada and other UN member nations adopted the United Nations agreement "Platform For Action" (PFA) at the Fourth UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, they renewed this commitment and agreed to increase their efforts. These commitments are set out in several other UN documents, including the "Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women" (FLS) adopted at the 1985 UN Conference on the End of the Decade of Women (1976-1985) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty which came into force in Canada in 1982.

These documents constitute a written, public agreement to carry out many of the political, economic, cultural, educational changes that Canadian women have long been seeking. Thanks to CEDAW, FLS, and the PFA we no longer need to struggle to get our demands or priorities accepted as legitimate, or to obtain promises to act. Frankly, we are wasting our time and weakening our case if we continue to seek from governments commitments that have already been given in these agreements. The promises have been made, officially, publicly, in writing. We ignore this fact at our peril. Now we must work to get these promises kept; a different stage requiring different priorities and tactics.

The first step we need to take is to become familiar with the documents containing those promises, and learn how to use them to make sure the promises are kept. …

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