2013 was an eventful year for feminists in Canada, filled with highs, lows and other noteworthy events that fall somewhere in between. Compiling and categorizing such a list becomes a challenging task given that feminists are not a monolithic group that share all the same viewpoints, experiences or locations. None-the-less, below are some of 2013’s noteworthy events.
This is certainly not exhaustive, so please share any additions you may have in the comments section!
- Government of Canada assembled an advisory council to promote the participation of women on public and private corporate boards – the report with recommendations for Canada was meant to be released in the fall, but has yet to surface.
- Feminism in Canada is featured in the National Film Board’s film Status Quo? The unfinished business of feminism in Canada, directed by Montreal director, Karen Cho.
- The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women reaches strong agreed conclusions on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
- The House of Commons passed Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity) to protect the rights of trans people.
- Premiers back national inquiry on missing aboriginal women
- The New Brunswick government announced the formation of Voices of New Brunswick Women Consensus-Building Forum – they abolished all funding to the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women two years before, but who’s counting.
- Alice Munro, the Canadian author, became the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
- Hundreds of feminists gathered in Ottawa for the Second Women’s Forum des Femmes, hosted by Niki Ashton M.P., to discuss issues affecting young feminists.
- Feminists gather for a second roundtable on the Future of the Women’s Movement to discuss common goals leading up to the 2015 federal election.
- Over 1100 women participated in the Forum on the state of feminism in Montreal, Quebec in order to develop perspectives that could guide the feminist movement for the years to come.
- The Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women and Children and the Canadian Labour Congress launched the first ever survey on domestic violence and the workplace.
- Winnipeg became the first Canadian city to join the UN’s Safe Cities Global Initiative
- Quebec’s Values Charter Splits Feminists
- A group of feminists, including author Margaret Atwood and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, advocated for changing the gendered lyrics of the National Anthem again to mark the 100th anniversary that the lyrics were changed to the ‘sons command’ version. No changes have been made.
- Canada ranks number 20 on World Economic Forum’s report on gender equality by country. This is up by 1 from last year but the report noted that gains made in Canada this year were offset by wage gaps and professional and technical indicators.
- The Supreme Court of Canada delivered a unanimous ruling in the Canada vs. Bedford et al. case to strike down existing criminal code provisions related to prostitution – the decision has elicited mixed feelings among feminists, some concerned, others elated.
- Parliament defeated Bill C-400, an Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing for Canada
- Rehtaeh Parsons tragically took her own life in April. Her parents allege she was raped by four boys at 15 and tormented after a lewd image of the attack was shared around town and at her school. Cyberbullying becomes a big issue in 2013, with new criminal justice legislation introduced at the federal level and in Nova Scotia.
- Students engaged in offensive pro-rape chants at Saint Mary’s University and the University of British Columbia. On the positive side, much needed discussions about sexual violence and consent intensify on campuses.
- Government of Canada dismisses repeated calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, including from the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples following a visit to Canada. His communications with Aboriginal people further confirm that they do not have faith that the Canadian government will take Aboriginal views into consideration when developing new policies and acts.
- Government of Canada refuses to fund abortion services abroad, even in cases of rape and child marriage
- Canada rejected several key recommendations from its Second Universal Periodic Review, including that Canada develop a national action plan to address violence against women, particularly against indigenous women.
- A survey revealed that one in five Canadians think a woman encourages sexual assault when she is drunk. Among the one and five appear to include Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, and Dr. Ken Flegel who wrote an editorial for the Canadian Medical Association Journal expressing his opinion that he thinks alcoholic beverages should bear a warning to young girls.
What were some of the big moments for gender equality on an international scale? Check out UN Women’s 2013 Gender Equality Year in Review and a video produced by the Association of Women’s Right’s in Development, Significant Moments for Women’s Right in 2013 .
In Canada we share a lot of a media with our neighbors to the South, so here are some of the highlights from American popular culture in 2013:
- Check out the video “How the Media Failed Women in 2013” by the Representation Project. It offers some celebratory moments, but highlights the aspects that aren’t changing fast enough.
- A strong group of female celebrities are speaking out on women’s rights
- 2013 was a great year for women over 40 in Hollywood
- Glamour Magazine declares calling yourself a feminist “the new do”