Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 11, 2006
REAL Women find new support for battle against Status of Women
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
For decades, REAL Women of Canada has been lobbying to have the federal Status of Women Canada (SWC) abolished. For decades their campaign fell on mostly deaf ears.
Now thanks to the Internet's blogosphere, its efforts suddenly have traction, and the pro-family, pro-life women's organization is being flooded with media calls. Now a real debate on whether Canada needs this agency has begun not only on the Internet, but in the mainstream news media.
"We were shocked," said national vice president Gwen Landolt in an interview. "We've been saying this for a thousand years, it seems."
Landolt opposed SWC because it does not represent all women of Canada, it only "represents feminists."
In the early days of REAL Women in the early 1980s, the organization applied to SWC for funding and was refused.
Landolt realized the federal body only funded groups such as the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, which represents women who favour abortion rights.
According to Landolt, only groups that "take the perverse position" that women are "victims of a patriarchal society" get support from SWC.
"Why is there a portfolio for the status of women?" she asked. "Because women as a whole are not disadvantaged. Why not status of men or Aboriginal people?"
When the Conservatives were elected in January, REAL Women revived its efforts to abolish SWC, sending a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and "friendly" MPs in various parties. That move prompted a counter-effort to save the agency.
Soon, a Catholic, pro-life blogger named Suzanne F. at BigBlueWaveCanada.blogspot.com called for the elimination of SWC.
Many other bloggers joined in, including Toronto-based Catholic author, poet and columnist Kathy Shaidle, whose RelapsedCatholic.com is one of the oldest and most popular Catholic blogs on the Internet.
Shaidle criticized the feminist notions that patriarchy was holding women back. "SOW does not represent all women, and therefore shouldn't use my taxes to lobby for a radical feminist agenda dominated by abortion rights, victimhood, junk science and male bashing," she wrote.
Canadian Press wrote a story on the so-called "blogburst." The Aug. 25 story was picked up in other media, fanning debate on whether Canada needs this agency - or the status of women cabinet portfolio held by Heritage Minister Bev Oda.
Defenders of the agency say SWC promotes gender equality, economic independence for women and the elimination of systemic violence against women and children.