Thursday January 20, 2011
Three Ways To Keep Women Safer
Housing, legal and child care support for aboriginal women
Submitted by Darcie Bennett PhD, Pivot campaigns director via Janine Bandcroft
the chance to appear as a witness before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
the Status of Women yesterday evening. The Committee is travelling around the
country studying violence against Aboriginal women. Hedy Fry opened the session
by sharing her hope that the Committee would identify some strategies that would
make Aboriginal women safer because so far, nothing seems to have worked.
All of the issues we work on at Pivot - policing, housing, sex work, child welfare and drug policy, have a profound impact on Aboriginal womenís vulnerability to violence. I could have spoken about any one of those issues for seven minutes and barely scratched the surface, but decided to use my time in front of the Committee to tell them that if our government is really committed to making Aboriginal women safer, there are some basic steps that need to be taken right away:
Create a funded national housing strategy
Without a safe place to call home, Aboriginal women are at extreme risk of violence. For mothers living in poverty, finding adequate housing is a major barrier to keeping themselves and their children safe.
Ensure women have meaningful access to the justice system
Cuts to legal aid over the past 8 years have disproportionately impacted Aboriginal women. The CCPA and West Coast LEAF recently released a report arguing that there are constitutional obligations on governments to address the equality impacts of inadequate legal aid.
Support women to care for their children
In 2008, we released a report which found that Aboriginal womenís experiences of violence cannot be understood outside of their experiences with the child welfare system. One of the best ways to keep families together is to ensure they have the resources they need to care for their children. Yet, we continue to fail Aboriginal children by keeping their mothers in poverty.
After years of Federal inaction on housing issues, erosion of womenís access to justice and failure to take the steps necessary to alleviate child poverty, it is hard to imagine that my seven minutes will make a difference. But as I said last night, Aboriginal women know what they need to keep themselves and their families safe. Governments have a duty to provide women with the resources they need to develop and implement solutions. Weíll keep up the fight on our end, and we call on the members of Standing Committee on the Status of Women to do the same.
About Darcie Bennett
Darcie joined Pivot to turn years of academic study (including a PhD in Sociology from the University of British Columbia) into meaningful social change. Darcie brings strong research and communications skills and a fondness for challenge to her work as Pivotís campaign director. Darcie also coordinates Pivotís Jane Doe Legal Network and leads Pivotís Child Welfare campaign.
When Darcie is not pouring over books on campaign strategy or experimenting with new social media, she is busy homeschooling and having fun with her three children. Darcie is active in a number of community organizations and sits on the board of her daughtersí Irish Dance school.
About Pivot Legal Society
Pivotís mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such as opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.
For more information visit: www.pivotlegal.org
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