National Association of Women and the Law forced to close office

28 posts / 0 new
Last post
Draco
National Association of Women and the Law forced to close office

 

Draco

quote:


September 20, 2007

OTTAWA – Effective today, the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is being forced to close its office, lay off its staff, and cease major consultations and advocacy on women's legal issues as an outcome of the Harper government's devastating changes to the mandate of Status of Women Canada. This closure is a grave blow to the continuing struggle for women's equality.

“The Harper government is trying to silence women’s groups who speak out against its right-wing agenda,” according to lawyer and NAWL Board member Pamela Cross. “These are ideologically driven cuts that demonstrate a defective concept of women’s equality and democracy.”


[url=http://www.nawl.ca/ns/en/Actions/20070920Press.html]Link[/url]

Sean in Ottawa

Is there any chance an opposition member can bring a bill to resolve this situation?

This is an essential organization fundamental to the democratic progress of our country.

catherine-l

Good question. Both the NDP and Liberals have issued press releases on this. Meanwhile, this site suggests writing a letter to Harper and provides sample letters. It also states that Harper had the words "women's equality" removed from the mandate of the Status of Women, which could have been predicted.

[url=http://www.nupge.ca/news_2007/n18se07b.htm]NUPGE[/url]

[ 20 September 2007: Message edited by: catherine-l ]

mgregus

It's appalling to see the ongoing effects of the cuts to Status of Women funding. The Conservatives' actions on this front are despicable.

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2007/200709/20070920.html]This story was on The Current today[/url], which featured interviews with Pamela Cross, Josйe Verner, the Heritage minister, and of course REAL Women, who have been aggressively lobbying against Status of Women.

The interview with the REAL Women rep made my blood boil, though it had its strong moments with a skeptical Anna Maria Tremonti. There was one point when the REAL rep complained that NAWL is a "handful of women lawyers" who do not represent women but are pushing an agenda that most women don't identify with, and Anna Maria countered that with "Are you saying that women can’t identify with pay equity, maternity leave, parental leave?" That was awesome.

mary123

Of course it's always the Talibani-like Conservatives trying to define women's issues as not important.
Weren't the Talibani-like Conservatives themselves standing up for women's issues in Afghanistan recently and getting their photo ops there by pretending to fight for women's rights and issues.

The Conservatives are trying to out Taliban the real Taliban it seems like.

AfroHealer

quote:


The interview with the REAL Women rep made my blood boil, though it had its strong moments with a skeptical Anna Maria Tremonti. There was one point when the REAL rep complained that NAWL is a "handful of women lawyers" who do not represent women but are pushing an agenda that most women don't identify with, and Anna Maria countered that with "Are you saying that women can’t identify with pay equity, maternity leave, parental leave?" That was awesome.[/QB]


Me too .. I loved Anna Maria's counter!!!
That Real Women rep seemed to be stuck in a time warp. and did not seem to fundamentally understand what equity was, or that it was the govt's mandate to ensure everyone was treated equitably.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

quote:


Originally posted by M.Gregus:
[b]There was one point when the REAL rep complained that NAWL is a "handful of women lawyers" who do not represent women....[/b]

And the handful of women that make up REAL Women do represent what women want?

Sharon

I agree that Anna Maria was great.

The REAL Woman was, of course, Gwen Landolt, who was almost inarticulate in her indignation and who pretty much implied that women choose to be unequal and that being paid less than men is part of the natural order. She called all the information around pay equity a well-known "feminist myth."

sgm

quote:


NAWL is closing its office because the new funding guidelines implemented by the Harper government for the Women’s Program specifically exclude law reform, advocacy and research from its funding criteria.

I think it's worth pointing out that the Harper government still funds research and advocacy--just not for women's equality.

Last March, for example, the Department of National Defence disclosed a $500,000 [url=http://www.admfincs.forces.gc.ca/pd/gc/details_e.asp?q=4&y=2006&id=38]gr... to the Conference of Defence Associations, which calls itself "the oldest and most influential advocacy group in Canada’s defence community," and "expresses its ideas and opinions with a view to influencing government security and defence policy," according to its [url=http://www.cda-cdai.ca/english-frame.htm]website[/url].

Stephen Harper's government will fund your group if its research and advocacy call for continuing the war in Afghanistan, but not if they call for recognizing Canadian women as full and equal human beings.

Naci_Sey Naci_Sey's picture

That is a really good and important catch, SGM.

Moveguy

NAWL is a racist organization. NAWL member Cynthia Devine, who is also a former national board member and the former editor of Jurisfemme, has publicly stated that the equality provisions of the Charter applies only to visible minorities and historically disadvantaged groups and not to white males.

oldgoat

Well, Moveguy's time here was short wasn't it?

1234567

thanks, we need good bouncers like you. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

jester

Why do they have to close?

quote:

If women, feminist women, have fallen silent, it is not because a handful of worthy organizations fighting for their rights is now being denied federal funding. It is because of widespread complacency, a sense that the battles have been won, that women no longer need special advocacy. It is because feminist ideas -- if not the still-radioactive label -- have become mainstream. The prime minister may be exploiting that complacency, but he didn't, alone, create it.

[url=http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.html?id=9e88bfb9-17... Citizen[/url]

So,if you are outraged rather than complacent,as soon as you are finished raging at Steve,send NAWL a hundred bucks.

The funding is only a lousy $300k. that is a mere 3,000 people donating a hundred each. While I understand Ms. Cross's point that most women are marginalised economically,there must be at least 3,000 progressives in Canada with a good income stream.

Why is it that as soon as government funding is cut,progressive organisations throw in the towel and quit? If NAWL is truly representative of women,they shouldn't have any problem raising at the least,$300k from both genders.

So,quitcherbellyachin and send money! Not only will you get that warm and fuzzy feeling of doing good but you also share in the frission of delight at shoving Steve's nose in his own creation. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

$100 loonies each thats $101 in US monopoly money. Today! Quit whining and cough up.

Alexandra Kitty

Forced to close?

There is only a single source of funding in the world? I'm sorry, but just as I get steamed when supposed capitalistic-minded corporations get government handouts, I feel the same way about groups like this. You can't put yourself at the mercy of a single benefactor. That's called dependence, and I have full confidence in women's abilities to raise money themselves. They should be setting a good example to young girls on how women don't have to depend on anyone else for their existence.

Otherwise, it's just a defeatist frame of mind. I am sure there are women out there who could have sailed that ship out of choppy waters through some other means.

[ 22 September 2007: Message edited by: Alexandra Kitty ]

Michelle

You and jester bring up an interesting point.

I've heard some feminists say that things were actually better when they did their own grassroots collective organizing and funding of various feminist organizations, because then they couldn't have the rug pulled out from under them.

The other side of that argument, however, is that there is no reason why feminist organizations SHOULDN'T get government funding - it's our money too, and we should have a say in how it's spent, and get our share.

I waffle between the two points of view.

Alexandra Kitty

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
The other side of that argument, however, is that there is no reason why feminist organizations SHOULDN'T get government funding - it's our money too, and we should have a say in how it's spent, and get our share.

That same money could be used for funding a national day care program and having business grants and scholarships for women who are marginalized. That way, the benefit is what feminist groups have been fighting for all along -- and it helps more women get an equal footing. No one could really say that there wouldn't be economic benefits -- plus, when some of those women do break the cycle, they shouldn't forget their darker days and should help fund the very feminist organziations who didn't forget them.

But I also think when you have to struggle, you tend to fight that much harder for what you believe in. You get nasty and have something to prove, which always makes you go farther. I almost think government funding can really soften up and slow down many of these groups, too.

So Harper may, in fact, be getting the opposite of what he seems to be hoping for...

[ 22 September 2007: Message edited by: Alexandra Kitty ]

jester

Sure,sure everyone and their dog are entitled to government funding. I'm sure the National Association for Wakeboarding Professionals has a legitimate claim on the public purse and the fact of the matter is that appeasing ALL these special interests is a lesser dollar value than the vintage wine bill at Foreign Affairs but we are not debating the legitimacy of special interest claims.

This has nothing to do with funding and everything to do with politics. While cutting funding that they consider ideologically driven,the CPC also INCREASES funding to women's groups and arts. They can legitimately claim to be responsive to a women's agenda politically while simultaniously grinding down the will of NAWL.

The funding amount is a pittance but it has the exponential ability to sow defeatism in a group that always has to persevere against the tide.

I know a lot about perseverance. One thing I've learned is that no one else will pick up your cudgel and walk in your moccasins if you don't have the jam to do so yourself.

If you want government funding,fight for it.

sgm

quote:


Stephen Harper's government will fund your group if its research and advocacy call for continuing the war in Afghanistan, but not if they call for recognizing Canadian women as full and equal human beings.

In QP today, Yasmin Ratansi asked the Conservative government about this contradiction, identified on rabble last year.

The Conservatives' only response was that they fund programs that help all women.

Boarsbreath

Living off the government is an option, but it shouldn't be the first, especially for such a mainstream group. I used to work for such an NGO, and of course we were always backing off this or that because it might disturb our funders.

The idea that a women's group must fold for lack of what amounts to a year's salary for thousands of people is...well, revealing. Organisations can just get too old --

martin dufresne

quote:


The idea that a women's group must fold for lack of what amounts to a year's salary for thousands of people is...well, revealing.

Come again? Just what does this reveal? That ONGs should manage to live under 25K$ gov't funding per year or meet a timely death, regardless of how crucial their work (just check out NAWL's web site)? Tell me I read you wrong.

Michelle

I don't think that's what boarsbreath was saying...I think s/he (sorry, didn't check before starting this post!) was responding to the choice of basing your budget on government funding or trying to raise money from the grassroots to fund it.

I still waffle between the two. But I've gotta tell you, having seen the nitty-gritty of trying to raise funding from individual donors and progressive organizations for progressive causes, I know what a grind it can be, and what a full-time job that is in itself. So it's hard to blame feminist organizations for fighting for a share of tax money instead.

martin dufresne

Absolutely. Especially when they are performing as vital a public service as NAWL is by poring through divorce legislation reform, constitutional challenge cases, pay equity issues, VAW, same-sex couple rights, etc. etc.
I recall that old feminist quip about "When the military has to hold a bake sale to buy a battleship..." Remember *they* got 22 billions of our mioney no questions asked last year.
I still can't make out the other part of Boarsbreath's post though, the one about a year's salary being somehow too much to expect from the gov't for an NGO.
BTW, I know NAWL and they *do* canvass their members all the time and look for many other ways to raise monies for a threadbare operating budget. So please check your facts before lobbing such discouraging words...
P.S.: "Old" is nothing to snigger at...

[ 26 February 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

Boarsbreath

I meant that if any "Non-Governmental" Organisation could be expected to manage without money from the government, it would be one whose cause was as general as this one and which represented lawyers. 300 donations of a thousand bucks and there's the funding. $1000 is a lot to expect from many people, but not from lawyers, I think.

I [i]don't[/i] mean the common rant about government teats, because Michelle's right, scrounging for dollars donor by donor is a major distraction. And I agree with what I take to be Martin's point, that the generality of NAWL's cause is precisely why they deserve public money. (It's hard to see 'women's issues' as a special interest; half of my ancestors were female!)

And finally, I must, for internal coherence, agree that old ain't necessarily decrepit. NAWL's a lot less old than I am. But you know what I mean...voluntary organisations can lose their steam, get caught up in careers or personal issues, and generally fade. The problem with government funding is that it doesn't depend on the organisation actually furthering its cause.

So maybe NAWL got too effective, so got harperooned. But why wouldn't there be enough progressive lawyers who can spare a couple of hundred dollars? They probably deserve funding, but why do they, of all NGOs, [i]need[/i] public money? (And perhaps gratuitously, I toss in my bit that really, given the wealth of their constituency, they should on principle try to be non-governmental.)

martin dufresne

You would be suprised, Boarsbreath, at the number of lawyers who are barely surviving, especially female ones who get the glass ceiling/sticky floor treatment from colleagues (not to mention domestic tasks). $1000 is not a trifle for them - two of my friends have gone bankrupt trying to run a law practice. Legal-aid subsidies don't begin to cover the cost of defending a client.
As for NGOs in general, please, ask around - government funding is critical unless you have a safe as milk issue and very rich friends in need of tax breaks. NOT the case for the women at NAWL who deserve every bit of support we can extend (letter to the editor, MP, gov't, donation, becoming a supporting member even). They have had an awesome influence in legislation these last 30 years and I shudder to think what the CPC will do to women's rights & entitlements if some tough-as-nails advocates aren't there to watch his every move.

Boarsbreath

Yeah, eh? The famous Western treadmill? You'd know better than I -- I haven't lived in Canada for ten years, and I have precisely one lawyer friend actually in practice. (And my $40G or so is a fine income here in the Pacific.)

OK; point taken.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The legal profession is very lucrative if you are a corporate lawyer. Not many of those donate to left wing causes.