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Canada can't take equality as a given [CA]

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Toronto Star
Publication Date: 
8 Mar 2007

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As the world marks International Women's Day today, it is a time to celebrate how far women have come in the struggle for gender equality.

Yet as the iconic Canadian feminist, long-time Chatelaine editor and Star columnist Doris Anderson might have challenged us, it is also a time to ask why so many things still have not changed in the 40-odd years since the women's movement began. Anderson's death this past week silenced a powerful voice for reform.

The gains Canadian women have made are impressive, and profound.

But in the powerful forums of politics and business, women remain sadly under-represented, underpaid and under-resourced.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has shamefully slashed funding to Status of Women Canada, the federal agency that promotes gender equality. The Tories also stopped funding women's groups that conduct research, advocate and lobby. If women struggle to be heard on Parliament Hill, it is little wonder.

Perhaps that explains why the campaign for affordable, nationwide, regulated child care has ground to a standstill. The Conservatives killed the Liberal program to give the provinces $5 billion over five years to create 100,000 new regulated spaces. It was replaced with a $100 a month grant to parents for each child under the age of 6. Today, only one child in six under age 12 has access to regulated child care.

While women have made historic progress in just a few decades, led by passionate pioneers such as Doris Anderson, major challenges still lie ahead. Today's young reformers can draw inspiration from her zeal.

- reprinted from the Toronto Star