Release: BC still not making the grade in women’s equality, despite modest improvements

VANCOUVER – Today, West Coast LEAF released its ninth annual report card on the rights of women in BC. While BC has pulled up its grade in seven of the nine key areas this year, the report card still shows a serious need for improvement in order to fulfill international commitments on women’s human rights. The provincial government has received no grade higher than C+ this year and has shown particularly inadequate performance in addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls and improving access to justice. Although some encouraging steps have been taken in the last year to advance gender equality, we are still waiting to see progress on many government promises.

West Coast LEAF’s CEDAW Report Card assesses BC’s adherence to the human rights standards set out in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The report card examines BC’s progress in nine key areas impacting women, including access to justice, economic security, child care, housing, and health. When women’s basic needs in these areas go unmet and the government fails to tackle deep socio-economic inequalities, women become more vulnerable to violence and face significant barriers to seeking safety. That’s why this year’s CEDAW Report Card is being released on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, the anniversary of the murders of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989.

Of particular note this year is BC’s unacceptable performance and abysmal D grade on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“Despite the tireless advocacy of Indigenous women and Indigenous-led organizations, BC has yet to do its part to carry out the CEDAW Committee’s 2015 recommendations on violence against Indigenous women,” says Kasari Govender, West Coast LEAF’s Executive Director. “The Province has stalled on implementing the recommendations from the BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, and the underlying causes of violence, including deep poverty, remain substantially unaddressed. The safety and human rights of Indigenous women and girls in BC continue to be threatened by widespread violence.”

“The 2017 CEDAW Report Card shows many areas where the BC government still hasn’t stepped up for women, although certainly this year’s grades are higher on average than in recent years,” adds Alana Prochuk, Manager of Public Legal Education at West Coast LEAF. “The take-away is that there’s no room for complacency. Just the opposite: now is the time to increase pressure on the provincial government to fulfill its promises and stay accountable to women. BC can and must comply fully with international standards for gender equality and human rights.”

For more about the state of women’s equality in BC, download the 2017 CEDAW Report Card.