Thursday, June 07, 2007

Status of women Canada an irrelevant "relic"

Some people reacted to modest budget reductions to the Status of Women Canada as though that agency was the only thing standing in the way of taking away womens' voting rights.

“We are now taking steps backward on equality rights instead of forward,” said Mathyssen. “By shutting offices, changing the mandate and cutting funding, Bev Oda is not promoting women’s rights. The Conservative Government is not committed to promoting women’s equality,” continued Mathyssen. “They are abandoning women in this country.”

Sounds pretty serious, doesn't it?

Well, turns out SOWC was on its last legs long before the conservatives started trimming the budget.

However, the documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act suggest the agency was due for a major shake-up even before the Tories decided on an overhaul.
A 2006 internal memo posed the question "Where is the organization today?"

The answers: "Unknown; getting worse - low and lowering profile both within and outside of government - lots of turnover with employees - no real stability - concerned about institutional stability - high turnover results in loss of corporate memory."

"We're not showing results . . . we don't have the authority to make things happen."

The documents cited staff burnout, including people leaving out of frustration, a "defeatist attitude" and lack of political leadership, no "clear vision of where it's going and how it plans to get there," and "inefficient attention to results and accountability."

The consulting firm Sussex Circle was commissioned in 2005 to look at the agency. It interviewed officials from the Privy Council and Treasury Board as well as the agency's senior management and staff.

The 2005 study quoted officials as calling the agency a "a relic," an institution that may once have served an important purpose, but whose mission and mandate needed to be rethought or updated.

James Mitchell, author of the reports, declined to comment.

Bumper sticker politics at its worst. The government should never have flip-flopped on this.

Hat tip: SDA comments

1 comment:

Karen Haines said...

Governments are the first to take credit for NGO and Advocacy ideas & achievements, and the last to take proactive responsibility for meaningful change - pay equity, universal child care and family shelters to name a few. Where is all of this glorious equality women are supposed to have won?
Susan Faludi said it best: "The fact that these are still such incendiary notions [feminism] should tell us that American [and Canadian, etc.] women have a way to go before they enter the promised land of equality."

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