Release: Report card on gender equality in BC released

VANCOUVER – Today, West Coast LEAF released its 10th annual Report Card on the rights of women in BC. The report card shows that although BC’s grades have improved in six areas, further progress is needed for the province to satisfy its international obligations to women’s human rights. Advancements in areas such as child care are encouraging, but disappointing inaction in the areas of women in prison and violence against women has been detrimental.

West Coast LEAF’s CEDAW Report Card is an evaluation of BC’s adherence to the human rights standards laid out in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This year’s report card assesses BC’s progress in nine key areas affecting women, including access to justice, employment, health, housing, poverty – all of which received higher grades this year – and the new addition of child protection.

BC has made substantial progress towards meeting child care obligations, earning an A- in this area. The province is on track to fulfill its intention of gradually implementing universal child care. This is the first time in a generation that parents are paying less, not more, for child care – a noteworthy improvement.

Concerning the rights of women in prison, BC has earned an abysmal D-. BC has failed to take adequate action against the over-incarceration of Indigenous people, especially Indigenous women and girls. Policy changes that fail to fully uphold the human rights of transgender inmates are concerning steps backwards.

“We are releasing the report card this year 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,” says Alana Prochuk, the report card’s main author and Manager of Public Legal Education. “This is in recognition of the fact that poor socio-economic conditions for women and a lack of government action to address inequalities can increase women’s vulnerability to violence and worsen barriers to safety.”

Prochuk adds: “BC received a disappointing D- in the area of violence against women, which includes the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. While gendered violence knows no boundaries, Indigenous women and girls continue to face disproportionately high rates of violence. BC’s inadequate funding initiatives fail to meet the need for sustainable, culturally appropriate violence prevention and healing programs.”

“Although BC has taken some significant steps forward in the past year, we’re far from having a society where women and girls are fully respected and their needs are met,” notes Elba Bendo, Director of Law Reform. “We need to keep holding the BC government accountable to addressing gender inequality and fulfil international obligations to uphold human rights.”