West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund), a B.C. women’s legal advocacy organization, has released its annual CEDAW report card. Each year, the organization publishes a report assessing how well the B.C. government has acted in accordance with CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
“CEDAW recognizes that it is not enough to guarantee that women and men be treated identically. Instead, state signatories must take appropriate action to eliminate discrimination against women and support substantive equality” (West Coast LEAF 2017 CEDAW report card, p. 2).
The stated goal of the report “is to raise public awareness about B.C.’s progress in meeting its international obligations on women’s rights, and to advocate for adequate provincial responses to the CEDAW Committee’s concerns” (p. 2).
The 2017 report indicates progress in 7 out of the 9 assessed areas. However, West Coast LEAF suggests that there is room for improvement. Overall, the grades are low, ranging from D’s for women and child care and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to C+’s for women’s health and women’s employment.
The report acknowledges that there was “some action taken” in the area of women’s employment, but says that there is a need for continued improvement. The report states that immigrant women continue to face discrimination and women with disabilities face “severe inequalities in access to paid work” (p. 10).
West Coast LEAF’s D grade for the government’s response to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls indicates “very limited action” and a need for “significant improvement” in this area. The report indicates that this is partially due to a lack of implementation of the recommendations made by B.C.’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. The report also criticizes the B.C. government for a lack of transparency on this issue (p. 21).
The Ministry of Public Safety issued a statement asserting that the B.C. government has done a “significant amount of work” to address the commission’s recommendations. The statement also says that the government has planned “significant initiatives” to continue to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in 2018.
The West Coast LEAF 2017 CEDAW report card can be accessed at the following link: http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/West-Coast-Leaf-CEDAW-2017-web.pdf