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Saturday, May 27, 2000

NAC urges fight against right-wing 'backlash'
'Revolution isn't done'
Luiza Chwialkowska
National Post

OTTAWA - Canadian women must unite to create a U.S.-style "political gender gap" before the next federal election in order to defeat the Liberal government and resist the forces of economic globalization, leaders of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women said yesterday.

"The revolution isn't done. We have to recommit to consciousness raising we were doing a few decades ago," NAC president Joan Grant-Cummings told the 170 members attending the annual general meeting of the lobby group.

Canada's "political landscape is shifting to the right," Ms. Grant-Cummings told members, and the process is "creating tension among women's organizations.

"Many of us are being co-opted in weird, weird ways ... We are becoming a motley crew," she said.

The women's movement is "facing incredible backlash" from "the right wing with their venom and their media allies who say that we are already equal," agreed Nancy Riche, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, in a keynote speech.

"We have too many women who are not part of the struggle," she told the members.

Government cuts to the welfare states and increasing globalization dominated the first day of the three-day conference.

"Globalization would seek to create a one world, one culture, one nation based on a white supremacist male model," Ms. Grant-Cummings stated in her presidential report circulated at the meeting.

NAC researchers presented the preliminary results of a $281,000 government-funded research project in which NAC sought the opinions of women's groups regarding government social policies and spending cuts.

The report, Women's Equality, Public Policy and Globalization, concludes that governments have embraced policies that have led to "erosion of work, work standards, and social programs."

"It is clear that new international trading agreements are having the effect of dismantling Canadian social security systems ... and making those who are already vulnerable, more vulnerable," said Kate Bezanson, a project researcher.

The report notes a "spread of low-wage, temporary, insecure and part-time work" among women, especially among "women of colour." Through their unpaid labour caring for children, the ill and the disabled, women are "filling in" for cuts in social spending, the report states.

The report calls for increased EI benefits, expanded maternity leave, childcare services, and health care.

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