If we start today: Envisioning Equity for Women at Canada's 160
Canada is ‘celebrating’ 150 years in 2017. But where are we really as a country at 150 years? Depends who you are. With the highest rates of sexual violence and unemployment and a complete void in policy, programming and funding at every level of Government, women and girls with disabilities are not doing well.
But on this International Women’s Day, there is something for us to celebrate. There are several women-led organizations that have made commitments that are concrete, focused investments of time and funding for girls and young women with disabilities. One is the Girls Action Foundation and other is the Canadian Centre for Rehabilitation and Work, both of whom are undertaking ground breaking work in partnership with DAWN Canada. Through these two initiatives, we are sending a message to young women with disabilities that they are important and that they are the change we want to see in the world.
We spent a great deal of time in 2016 telling Government what’s wrong for women and girls with disabilities. But talking will not get this done in time for Canada’s 160th birthday. Changing policies, and programs and funding allocations will go a long way, as will raising up resilient, confident girls with disabilities and giving them the same opportunities to thrive, to succeed and to lead as other girls in Canada.
Systemic change is an over-used term we like to throw around in the social justice sector, but what does it mean? It means holding Governments and the Public Service and all Canadians to a longer view and to staying with something until you fix it, not until the next budget or the next election.
This is the kind of change that these two organizations are demonstrating. The Girls Action Foundation project is focused on developing self-esteem and leadership for 9 to 13 year old girls, and is the most significant “pay it forward” investment in girls with disabilities that I am aware of. The Canadian Centre for Rehabilitation and Work is working with us to implement a three -year pilot project in Quebec which will provide job preparation and job experience for young women with disabilities.
With this approach, DAWN Canada and our partners are determined to see a very different picture for women and girls with disabilities by 2027.
What are you waiting for Canada? Equity first!
National Executive Director – DAWN Canada