Province scores a C- on women’s equality

October 24, 2012

The 2012 CEDAW report card is out! Every year on October 18 – Persons Day – West Coast LEAF publishes a Report Card measuring BC’s compliance with the internationally protected human rights of women and girls enshrined in the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


The Convention requires states to take steps to ensure the full development and advancement of women, and to guarantee them the exercise and enjoyment of their human rights on a basis of equality with men. Importantly, CEDAW doesn’t simply require states to remove obvious examples of discrimination against women and implement gender-neutral provisions in their stead. Rather, the Convention demands that states strive towards equality of results for women, by recognizing women’s historic disadvantage and seeking to undo some of the damage caused by laws that have perpetuated women’s inequality.


“The most striking feature of this year’s Report Card is the way women’s poverty is a unifying theme across all of the categories” says Laura, who writes the Report Card. “Women’s economic insecurity contributes to ill health, homelessness, and criminalization, and is reinforced by a lack of access to legal aid, child care, and adequate social assistance. A focus on ending poverty would go a long way towards meeting our international human rights obligations to women and girls.”


A failing grade was awarded in the category of Women & Access to Justice. Women are most affected by the underfunding of legal aid and bear a disproportionate burden of our province’s unequally accessible justice system. Failing grades were also awarded in the categories of Social Assistance & Poverty, and Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls.


One category that did see improvement this year was Violence against Women & Girls, which had its grade raised to a B- this year. This was due in large part to the Province’s passage of a new Family Law Act, which takes significant strides towards addressing violence against women in the family context. We also raised the Housing grade slightly, to a C, based on some new investments in supportive housing for women around the province.