ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Canada : Women's Interests and Welfare State

Canada : Women's Interests and Welfare State

Feminists across Canada are gearing up to fight what they say threatens them most - market forces. The decade of the 1990s has seen a rightward shift in Canadian politics, accompanied by a gradual dismantling of state support to social sector spending - which has simultaneously left in tatters the country's traditional image of a left-leaning, generous economic regime. But they remain a minority, as women have been largely co-opted by the demands of the new system.

On a cold, windy January morning, about 50 staunch feminist members of one of the country’s oldest women’s organisation, National Council for Women Canada, braved the city’s chill and gathered in the basement of a school building in Ottawa, to listen to a lecture about the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The guest speaker spoke to them about the new trade agenda. The post-Seattle paradigm and about dealing with fiscal deficit – not what you would typically label as ‘women’s issues’. At about the same time, in Ottawa’s neighbouring city, Montreal, the office of Quebec’s largest feminist federation, the FFQ, was brimming with energy as plans were made to mobilise women across the globe to hold a world women’s march against globalisation and free trade agreements.

Feminists across Canada these days, are gearing up to fight for what they say threatens them most – market forces. The last decade in Canadian politics has seen a rightward shift in economic policies, under prime minister Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Jean Chretien. The country’s traditional image of a left-leaning, generous economic regime is in tatters today. A gradual dismantling of the state’s support to social sector spending has dominated much of the politics of the 1990s. “As we watch our social safety net dwindling, the impact on women is considerable. We cannot sit and watch this helplessly”, said Francois Davide, who heads Quebec’s FFQ.

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