UNPAC Coordinating Committee
Annual Report 2006 – 2007
United Nations Platform for Action Committee (Manitoba)
“Looking at the World through Women’s Eyes”
This has been a very full and exciting year with the project completing its second and final year, major changes in mandate and grant terms and conditions at Status of Women Canada (SWC) who have been our prime funders, and the spinning off of a lively Women in Action group led by younger women.
Mandy Fraser and Muriel Smith have served as co-chairs for the year and have been gratified to welcome new members to the Coordinating Committee: Mandy Fraser, Allyson Watts and Sarah Amyot. Along with veterans Britany Toews, Gisèle Saurette-Roch and Muriel Smith, they oversaw the overall functioning of UNPAC including the gender budget project with both its “grassroots” and “treetops” components. In the latter portion of the work, they were assisted by the Wise Women: Lorna Turnbull, Sue Hudson, Molly McCracken, Shauna MacKinnon, Gerri Thorsteinson and June Menzies. These activities are thoroughly reported on by the Project Coordinator, Jennifer de Groot. Other initiatives taken throughout the year include:
- Celebrating past accomplishments when our two staff persons, Jennifer deGroot and Becky Thiessen, were invited to go to Vancouver to participate in the Grassroots Women’s International Academy (GWIA) event that preceded the World Urban Forum (WUF); Becky and board member Gisèle Saurette-Roch were also able to attend the WUF. See the website as there is a new page with great photos and lots of information on the events;
- active communications led by Communications Coordinator, Becky Thiessen, who met the needs of both the project and UNPAC. See the website to share her wonderful cartoon postcards that so imaginatively capture the gist of what UNPAC has been hearing from women throughout Manitoba. Another thrust has been managed voluntarily by Mary Scott: UNPAC’s biweekly e-newsletter (see Mary’s report). Snippets has now reached its 230th issue! It has become an indispensable tool for a widespread audience that regularly reported on local, national and international events and issues;
- funeral march, December 8, complete with mock casket, lamenting the changes at SWC; about 150 women and men participated walking from the provincial legislative grounds along Broadway Avenue to the Federal Building that formerly housed SWC’s Manitoba office;
- film screening of “Mothers Courage, Thriving Survivors” on February 20 at the University of Winnipeg. Co-sponsored with Amnesty International Group 19, U of W’s Global College, and the UW Students Association. Over 70 women and men came together to view the film and listen to three panelists: Willy Mushagalusa – student from the Congo, Gaylene Dempsey – NEEDS Centre, and Leslie Spillett — Kanikanichihk, speak of their experiences of women, war, rape and survival;
- UNPAC archives were cleaned up and consolidated from multiple locations, cleaned up and deposited with the Provincial Archives;
- presentation by Jennifer deGroot in Ottawa on invitation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Status of Women to show the impacts of the SWC cuts, particularly on the change in mandate and the ban on advocacy, as well as on the reduction of regional offices from 16 to 4;
- FAFIA consultation on the federal budget attended by Muriel Smith;
- application for a follow-up grant from SWC involving further outreach to women throughout Manitoba, using and refining popular education methods that have proven so effective in the first two projects, training local leaders to carry on the processes of mentoring them in their quest for fuller participation in the political and economic life of the province;
- keeping abreast of global developments by attendance by Muriel Smith at the UN annual Commission on Status of Women meetings in New York where the issues surrounding the girl child were debated.
Each year provides a fresh challenge to UNPAC as we try to keep abreast of what has been accomplished locally, nationally and internationally to implement the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action document, to identify what remains to be done, and to discover what we can do both as volunteers and through project funding when we are able to hire staff. UNPAC has acquired an enviable reputation not only locally but from as far afield as the United Kingdom, thanks to our work on the economy and full reporting and sharing on the UNPAC website.
The future remains uncertain. Much will depend on whether we secure a grant, but the work of UNPAC will continue regardless. Our very good wishes go to our Project Coordinator who will be taking the year off to care for her much anticipated baby due in June, and continuing with her active farming activity. Becky will be continuing to use her artistic talents at Art City and has indicated a desire to stay involved on the Coordinating Committee. Our personal thanks go as well to the Coordinating Committee who have helped keep the flames of equality, development and peace alive, supported by all the members and friends of UNPAC. A special thank you to Sue Barnsley and Gerri Thorsteinson of the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council for their steady and ongoing support — it means a lot to us; to the Manitoba Minister for the Status of Women, Nancy Allan, whose department has given us grants, to the Minister of Finance, Greg Selinger, and his staff in Treasury Board, to Minister of Family Services and Housing, Gord MacKintosh, and to the Liberal and Conservative Caucuses who have responded openly to our advocacy efforts on behalf of the women of Manitoba.
The voices of the 51% of Manitobans who are women will be heard!
Gender Budget Project Report
It has been another active and successful year for the UNPAC Gender Budget Project. As we end the official project this spring we have much to feel proud of.
Fun and participatory workshops on the provincial budget for women across the province continued to be a major focus of our work. Over the past two years we have held 46 workshops throughout Manitoba with nearly 500 women in attendance. Twenty-two workshops were held in Winnipeg and 24 elsewhere in the province. We travelled north, south, east and west and are proud that we have reached women diverse in age, ability, ethnicity, life experience, geography, language and race. For the second year of the project we made some revisions to the workshop facilitation guide to include a stronger lobbying portion. We made time for role plays to allow participants to practice meeting with a politician as well as being interviewed by the media. Highlights of the year include workshops with deaf-blind women in Winnipeg, Aboriginal women organized with Mothers of Red Nations, a new women’s studies class at Dakota School, a second trip to Northern Manitoba, a trip to the Parklands region, and four workshops conducted en français (three in rural Manitoba),
The most satisfying aspect of each workshop is seeing women realize they have a voice. Some of the comments we heard at the end of the day are:
“The most useful thing that I learned is that there are ways to be proactive about how government decisions impact us women.”
“I learned how to make my voice heard.”
“J’ai appris que ma voix peut être entendre et peut changer quelque chose.”
“I had no idea that anyone was interested in what women have to say.”
“The workshop helped me understand the changes we women can make in the budget.”
“The most interesting part is that I learned from other participants that I am not alone.”
Dialogue with government
We also continued to meet with the Government of Manitoba on women’s budget priorities as well as on the need for gender analysis to be broadly used in policy and budget development. We met with Minister of Family Services and Housing Gord MacIntosh to highlight women’s concerns about the lack of affordable quality housing options in the province. Prior to Budget Day we met again with Minister of Finance Greg Selinger. We also continued to meet with staff at Treasury Board. We are very pleased that Treasury Board has initiated a pilot project to improve the ability of provincial government staff to do gender and diversity analysis in policy and budget development. We have met with Lissa Donner and Yvonne Peters who have been hired to do this work and who invited our feedback on their draft workshop guide.
In the lead-up to an anticipated election announcement we met with Liberal leader Jon Gerrard and PC leader Hugh McFadyen along with some of his caucus. At these meetings we explained our work of the past years and highlighted women’s budget priorities.
Many of our workshop participants chose to take the opportunity to write a letter to their MLA naming their budget priorities. Well over 200 letters were written and altogether 41 MLAs (out of 57) received letters. As we waited for the election call UNPAC wrote individualized letters to each MLA in Manitoba in which we gave some background on our work and named women’s budget priorities specific to their region.
UNPAC was very pleased to be one of only a handful of groups to be invited to present to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women on the topic of the cuts and mandate change to Status of Women Canada. We spoke on a panel along with four other groups. Our five-minute presentations were followed by questions from each party and a lively exchange on the effect the changes were likely to have on small women’s organizations such as ours.
As election day approaches we are active on several fronts. We organized two shorter workshops to orient women to getting their views across in an election lead-up. One was held in Steinbach and the other in Winnipeg. We also wrote five election primers giving women tips on how to be involved in the election and how to raise their voice. These were sent out over our listserve. One of the primers was on how to organize an election forum. We made individual phone calls to 15 community groups around the province encouraging them to organize forums on issues related to women, children, and poverty in general.
UNPAC was part of initiating the Women in Action group – an ad hoc coalition of women committed to women’s equality – that met first in late November. The group was able to quickly organize the well-attended and publicized funeral for women’s equality rights. In mid-March the group organized a public meeting on women and housing which attracted 40 participants and focused on brainstorming possible actions to take. Sub-groups that came out of this event are still meeting, one focused on networking and the other on lobbying and publicity.
We received many speaking requests and participated in many community events over the year. A definite highlight was participating in the Grassroots Women’s International Academy(GWIA) and the World Urban Forum(WUF) in Vancouver in June. We were honoured to facilitate 2 1/2 days of meetings at the GWIA. We met inspiring women from around the world and had a chance to display our work to large crowds at the WUF. We were also pleased to be invited to speak on women’s human rights on a panel at the University of Winnipeg Global College’s Human Rights conference as well as at a town hall on women and civic politics organized by the University of Winnipeg’s Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies. Along with the Institute UNPAC organized a launch of Canadian Women’s Studies latest issue on ‘Canadian Feminism in Action’ in which our work was prominently featured.
Media and publicity
UNPAC’s Femme Fiscale made her way into the hands of many Manitobans. We have distributed hundreds of Femme Fiscale cartoons; the full set is available for viewing on our website and printed versions are also available to order. La Femme appeared at the Manitoba Legislature again on Budget Day this time with the Golden Boy in tow. While media coverage was less than ideal she had a good conversation with the Minister of Finance and created some fun and festivity around the dryness of the budget. Golden Boy was quoted extensively in an article in Uptown magazine and a clip from our Wise Woman Lorna Turnbull was played on Radio Canada.
Articles on our workshops appeared in many rural newspapers around the province. An article also appeared in Manitoba’s French paper, La Liberté. Reporters at La Liberté later interviewed us for another article related to changes at Status of Women Canada. We had appearances on CKUW’s Sex Files and Say it Sista! Becky wrote an article on the GWIA/WUF which appeared in Project Peacemakers’ newsletter. We had excellent coverage in Canadian Women’s Studies Canadian Feminism in Action issue.
UNPAC’s website continues to expand. Do take time to check it out at www.unpac.ca. You will find reports, photos, and media articles from our workshops around the province, Femme Fiscale cartoons, photos from Budget Day, workshop hand-outs, a Femme Fiscale do-it-yourself kit, a report on the GWIA/WUF, as well as background information on gender budget initiatives around the world. Please note that we have worked hard to make our website fully accessible to those with mobility and visual impairments.
Many people have made UNPAC’s work successful over the year. In particular we’d like to thank our Wise Women: Gerri Thorsteinson, Lorna Turnbull, Molly McCracken, June Menzies, Sue Hudson, Shauna MacKinnon, Gisèle Saurette-Roch, and Muriel Smith. The skills and passion of our Communications Coordinator, Becky Thiessen, were an invaluable asset to the project. Casual help was provided by Marie-Claude Barrette-Molgat, Janis Dahl, and Mandy Fraser. Thanks to each of you for your unique skills. Sandy Rubinfeld was our web designer and Karen Allen our graphic designer. The contributions of each made the project a better one. Shawna Dempsey and Kaj Hasselrijs provided essential services on Budget Day. Members of our Coordinating Committee helped out in publicizing workshops and also offered general support and encouragement. In particular our Treasurer, Allyson Watts, devoted many hours of time to managing the financial aspects of the project as did our co-chairperson, Muriel Smith. A number of our supporters came together to brainstorm future funding possibilities and we thank them for their time and ideas. Our Status of Women representative Deborah Welch went over and above the call of duty in her support of us.
Numerous organizations supported us as well. Many organizations around the province accepted our invitation to host a workshop. Their assistance was invaluable. Reseau Action Femmes partnered with us in delivering our French workshops. The Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council helped with translation and provided free photocopying as well as much other encouragement. We received monetary support from a number of sources. Status of Women continued to be our major funder. We are also grateful to Minister responsible for the Status of Women Nancy Allan for a second grant. Manitoba Government and General Employees Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Manitoba donated money to cover costs for our workshop with deaf-blind women. Mother of Red Nations Women’s Council shared some of their professional development money with us. The Child Care Coalition invited us to partner with them on a trip to the Parklands region. Wolseley Family Place provided catering and collaborated with us on several projects.
Our next funding application to Status of Women Canada will be sent shortly. We hope to be able to continue the work which we are good at and which is appreciated by so many Manitoba women. On a personal note I am looking forward to taking the next year off to be with my new baby. I have greatly enjoyed my last six years of working with UNPAC and have found the work inspiring, challenging, and deeply fulfilling. I wish you all the best in the coming year.
UNPAC Coordinating Committee for 2006-2007
|Project Coordinator (staff):||Jennifer deGroot|
|Communications Coordinator (staff):||Becky Thiessen|
|Board Members:||Sarah Amyot
2006 — 2007
Since returning from Beijing in 1995, there has been interest by UNPAC in supporting women’s access and use of electronic communications. A Workshop “Alice in Cyberland” was sponsored by UNPAC in 1998, for example, which promoted womens’ leaning and using the electronic media. Another training session was held in Brandon. One of the outcomes of those workshops was the Power Up training sessions still offered by the Manitoba Government. This met a real need for women, particularly in the northern and rural areas.
Snippets was a way of exchanging information via e-mail to UNPAC members, and the community who were interested in the outcomes from the Beijing Conference and connecting with the global stories. It’s grown and evolved over the close to 10 years. The early years focused on local and national stories. Now there is more focus on international news and suggestions for advocacy. I try to keep it “clean” looking, and using url’s that work, and sometimes shortened. Many of the subscribers are interested in UNIFEM and the news of what women are doing, and what actions might be taken locally to support them. I continue to hear from many of the over 200 subscribers, many of whom have moved away from Winnipeg, and on to new challenges. Audrey McClelland, Beryle Jones and Gisèle Saurette-Roch (original UNPAC supporters) and many others have always kept me up to date with news that will be of interest to others. There are many sources of information for Snippets: the International Women’s Tribune Centre; FAFIA; MCIC & CCIC; PAR-L; Equity, Health and Human Development; Women Peace and Security; UNIFEM etc.
This year the frequency for Snippets has been reduced, but there still seems to be interest in continuing. Over 230 separate editions of Snippets have been sent to date, to over 200 subscribers (and it seems we continue to get new subscribers). I would like to thank UNPAC and the many subscribers to Snippets for their interest and support. Our work continues and Snippets is one way to keep us connected, and informed.