Up for debate

Dear editor:
We are proud to share with you that on Nov. 4, 2014, alongside more than 100 women’s organizations and their allies, we launched “Up For Debate”—a campaign calling on all federal political parties to make meaningful commitments to change women’s lives for the better, at home and around the world.
Women in Canada have questions, and the “Up For Debate” campaign challenges our leaders to answer them.
When it is time to elect our next federal government in 2015, we want to see party leaders explain how they plan to build a more equal Canada for us all. This must begin by committing to participate in a nationally-broadcast leaders’ debate focused on policies and issues that impact women’s lives.
In Canada, women continue to earn 20 percent less than their male peers for the same full-time work, are more likely to be poor, and do twice as much unpaid work in the home.
Women’s lives remain full of fear as sexual violence perpetrated by men against women has not decreased nor have penalties for these crimes increased.
Since 1980, more than 1,000 aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing, and each day more than 6,000 women and children seek protection in an emergency shelter.
Here in Rainy River District, we have started to plant a tree in front of second-stage housing to commemorate every woman from our district who has been murdered by her intimate partner.
We have 12 trees to date, which is 12 too many.
Around the world, women face economic exclusion and marginalization.
Violence against women is endemic and sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon in armed conflict.
Every year, 14 million girls are married against their will before they turn 18. Women still account for only nine percent of the police, 20 percent of parliamentarians, and 27 percent of judges worldwide.
The struggle to realize equal rights for women and girls is far from over.
Women can determine the outcome of the next federal election. Women vote in greater numbers–over a half-million more women than men voted in the last federal election.
We want proof that the candidates for prime minister understand the diverse needs and realities of women.
We’re up for the debate. The question is, are the party leaders?
Donna M. Kroocmo,
Executive Director,
Rainy River District
Women’s Shelter of Hope