Monthly Archives: February 2014

World Day of Social Justice

By: Kelsey Sunstrum

Defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada as giving “individuals and groups fair treatment and an equitable share of the benefits of society,” social justice is an important concept in local and global culture.

Since 2007, the United Nations has celebrated February 20th as the World Day of Social Justice as a way of promoting social justice. Member States are encouraged to participate by taking action in ways that are in line with the World Summit for Social Development. Though justice is the overarching goal of the day, the UN suggests concentrating on activities that focus on improving world poverty; the amelioration of employment and work for all; and gender equity.

The World Summit for Social Development took place in Copenhagen in 1995 and was then the largest ever gathering of international leaders. Important decisions were reached at the summit that would impact the future of development. It was agreed that it was necessary to shift attention to the impacts on humanity in terms of development. By aligning themselves with the summit, the participating countries made a commitment to take serious action to rectify world poverty; create jobs; and support social integration.

An example of progress in the field of social justice is the adoption of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization in 2008. This declaration implicates 182 Member States to abide by the policies outlined in the document which seek to advance social justice in the fields of work and employment around the world. The report ensures fairness through “social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.”

It is of utmost importance to teach and promote the goal of social justice, though the task is certainly not easy. The Guardian put together a list of helpful resources for anyone looking for tools in teaching social justice to all age groups. The resources are practical and relevant, addressing actual current global issues, while encouraging children and adolescents to give back to their local and global community.

Oxfam has many such programs, two of which are Food for Thought and Change the World in Eight Steps. Food for Thought is a programme about the global food system that uses activities to guide children and youth to think critically about the implications of the practices of the food system, and suggestions for ways to take action to improve nutritional social justice. Change the World in Eight Steps takes a similar approach to explain and further explore the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were selected to be focus for development starting in 2001 and extending to the year 2015. The goals include eradicating world poverty; bettering maternal health; and working towards environmental sustainability.

There are numerous organizations across the country working towards social justice, including the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW). We encourage you to find out how you can contribute to social justice in your local community by getting involved with a local Club of CFUW, and/or with other organizations such as ACORN Canada in your area. For listings of Ottawa charities and non-profit organizations, check out the following links:

–         Volunteer Ottawa

–         Ottawa Charity Village Volunteer Opportunities

–         Ottawa Charities & Fundraisers Guide

–         Ottawa Charitable & Community Organizations

Black History Month is also in February, so we also encourage you to take advantage of the excellent web resource by Teaching for Change which contains a myriad of free informational resources on the Civil Rights Movement.

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Federal Budget Offers Little for Women Once Again

OTTAWA – February 12, 2014 – With the exception of a few announcements, Economic Action Plan 2014 offers very little to improve women’s economic opportunities and address violence against women says the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW).

In previous Economic Actions Plans we have seen the Government of Canada focus heavily on industries and job creation in fields where women are significantly underrepresented, such as in resource development, infrastructure, science and technology, and the trades, while at the same time cutting jobs in the areas where women do work and earn more equitable wages, such as in the public sector. Again in this budget we see a similar emphasis. There does, however, appear to be a small investment specific to women and the economy, with a mere $150,000 to increase mentorship among women entrepreneurs, and initiate discussions about how to increase the numbers of women entering into, and succeeding in, business.

“Approaching job creation without considering gender differences is very damaging for women, who continue to lag behind in terms of pay and workforce participation”, said Susan Murphy, President of the Canadian Federation of University Women. “And while young women are increasingly attaining higher levels of education, they are struggling with high rates of unemployment, underemployment, and student debt. We need the Government of Canada to think about the impact of their budgeting decisions and economic policies on both women and men of all ages.”

Budget 2014 also announces that the Government of Canada will launch a Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan shortly. “This is a positive step, which may help women attain more flexibility in the workplace to attend to their care responsibilities. However, this announcement does nothing to address one of the most limiting factors forcing women out of the workforce, partially or even entirely, the high cost of child care and elder care”, said Ms. Murphy. “For many years, women’s groups have been urging the Government of Canada, to no avail, to work with provinces and territories to address the lack of affordable and safe child care in this country.”

The Government of Canada has also indicated that it will continue funding to address violence against indigenous women and girls, but the $25 million committed over 5 years is miniscule in comparison to the tremendous costs of violence estimated at over $7 Billion annually. A growing number of organizations and groups have been calling on the Government of Canada to develop and adequately fund a comprehensive National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls, along with a National Public Inquiry on violence against indigenous women and girls. “We are looking for a much higher funding commitment from the Government that brings a stronger focus on prevention, and addresses all forms of violence, particularly for disproportionately affected groups of women and girls, ” said Murphy.

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. It holds special consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and belongs to the Education Committee of the Canadian Sub-Commission to UNESCO. CFUW is the largest affiliate of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), which represents women worldwide.

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For more information or to schedule an interview please contact:
Tara Fischer, Advocacy Coordinator, CFUW, 613-234-8252 ext. 106 or cfuwadvocacy@rogers.com