Guest bloggers

Day 8: How SWOVA is Helping BC Teens Develop Respectful Relationship Skills

Teens taking selfieSWOVA recently had a visit from an engaging and dynamic woman from Australia named Ellen Poyner. Ellen works to create and deliver healthy relationships programs in Southern Australia and is touring North America to investigate programs related to her work.  When she asked me what I was most proud of in SWOVA’s Respectful Relationships program, the first thing that came to mind is team work.  We have always worked in teams. Many people have worked with us for short periods or long periods providing dynamic team collaborations. As we all know there is lots of work to be done to prevent gender-based violence and we are stronger when we feel supported and are able to spark off each other.

Day 6: Why the question “Why doesn’t she just leave?” hurts my ears

Woman looking at cameraOne of the most common misconceptions about domestic violence is that it occurs within a relationship, and ends when the relationship does. Leaving a relationship does not stop the abuse. They are separate issues only connected by the individuals involved.

Recently in the Edmonton area there have been two high profile domestic murders that shine light on the enduring nature of domestic abuse. Both women were murdered long after the relationships had ended. The first, Nadine Skow, had broken off the relationship more than a year prior to her ex-partner breaking into her home and stabbing her 17 times. She had moved across the province to hide from him. She was preparing to move again. The second, Colleen Sillito, had sought police protection and had a Court Order barring him from contacting her; he had already violated the Order at least once. She was also in a new relationship. But the abuse did not end. In both cases, the women had taken significant steps toward protecting themselves.

3 Reasons Seniors are Facing More Debt than Ever – and May Be Vulnerable to Abuse

Older womanAlmost half of retirees are in debt. While their total debt might be lower, older Canadians are accumulating debt at a faster rate than their children and grandchildren.  The question is, why this is the first generation of seniors willing to risk their retirement by taking on so much debt late in life? In truth, seniors are facing the pressure to go into debt for three main reasons.

1.       Lifestyle and Longevity

For some, debt becomes a way of funding their retirement. A small segment may be using debt to maintain a larger home rather than downsizing and travelling, but for many, debt is funding basic living expenses. A reduction in income without a healthy safety net, in terms of retirement savings or a good pension, means borrowing to pay the rent and eat. As we live longer, any savings we do have may not go far enough.

Creating Safety and Working Together For Justice in the Yukon

Aboriginal womanUntil recently, the nature and level of care and assistance received by First Nations, Metis and Inuit women in the Yukon was “all over the map”. Due to the existence of “negative social responses” to those who report violence, many Indigenous women choose to deal with complex violent situations on their own. Together for Justice provided a forum for exploring the cross-roads of gender, race and colonialism to better understand and stop the violence against Indigenous women in the Yukon.

The Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS) was established in the Kaska Territory as a non-profit society in 1998. What began as a small circle of women from the Kaska Nation concerned with community healing, evolved over time to developing and offering a comprehensive community transformation process.  LAWS recognized a critical need to provide opportunities for Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members to hear from Kaska women, other community members, service providers and government agencies about violence and how it could be addressed.

Tips for Writing While Feminist

Woman writing in notebookI am a confident writer, always have been. But I recently chanced on a column I’d written in 2004 by that hang-about village idiot, Bill O’Reilly, on Fox News, and my blood froze. That was the year I was first hit by online bursts of hate. I’d reached the 10-year point at which the wonderful U.S. journalist Michelle Goldberg has suggested that online feminist writers might well burn out. A decade of being called a “c—t” and an “ugly bitch”? It saps the soul.

But I keep writing about equal rights, and so do most feminist journalists. It’s worth doing, not only because it’s how we earn our pay, and not only for moral reasons. I’m thinking of our daughters, and granddaughters. Imagine the bleak future they’re going to have if we back down now. We’re headed into hard times, and they’ll be that much harder for women without power, without public voices.

Girls No More

White flowersI decided last week to make a collage art piece that could speak about girls who have been victims of violence - sexual or otherwise. The result is "Girls - No More" (14" X 16" mixed media).

The Black Car is the central point of interest. The ominous windows are obscured. The inferno at the bottom represents secrets buried and the violence that girls and women have experienced. Smoke vapour and dust clouds reflect how quickly "everything we are" can change or disappear. Truth tumbles from the woman's hand as it reaches out from the cloud behind the car. 

Why Equality Still Matters

Woman in b&wwas recently invited to take part in a discussion about why it matters there are so few women on corporate boards of directors and in senior executive roles. At first, I was surprised we are still debating such a fundamental question. But as I pondered the theme, I realized there is still at least one critical difference of opinion about this topic.

I’ve interviewed many senior business men and women about their efforts to boost the number of women on boards, and they all agree improving diversity in senior roles is important because it improves their bottom-line profitability. The universal argument is: “It’s good for business.”

Straight Outta Misogyny: From the Big Screen to the Bigger Picture

Woman looking awayOk. I’m going to make a lofty attempt to connect the misogynoir* and misogyny in Straight Outta Compton - Dr. Dre’s violent past and Ice Cube’s women vs. bitches theory - to state sanctioned violence against women/female bodied people (FBP). This violence is in large part due to global socio-political histories that continue to impede women’s progress and autonomy, particularly racialized women.  I’m hoping that the more people who engage the topic of misogynoir/misogyny from this perspective, the more likely we’ll see a change in policy and social norms informed by the state*.

Twenty years ago, Dre assaulted Dee Barnes and other women.

How can we hold employers accountable for preventing sexual harassment?

Woman in office smilingThe recent news of former Ontario premier and TO2015 chairman, David Peterson, being sued for sexual harassment marked the latest installment in an onslaught of high-profile reports of women being sexually harassed on the job.

Ximena Morris, a manager with the Pan and Parapan American Games, reports receiving numerous flirtatious remarks, unwanted hugs and comments of a sexual nature from Peterson, some of which humiliated her in front of colleagues and distinguished visitors associated with the Games.  More disturbingly still, Morris was reportedly told by HR and other senior officials within her organization to whom she complained about the sexual harassment to “let it roll off her back”, before ultimately being demoted.

Debt Struggles Create a Burden of Comparative Poverty for Women

Woman in black and whiteIt’s not just a low income that creates the burden of struggling to make ends meet. A recent study by my firm, Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc., shows that women are increasingly turning to debt as a way to survive on a modest income, often to their detriment.

Not surprisingly, almost half of all insolvency filings are made by women.  What is alarming is that women have to turn to bankruptcy for significantly lower debts. In fact, women are filing bankruptcy with debts that are one-third less than that of male insolvent debtors.