At the recent Ottawa consultation of women's groups sponsored by the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, I became acutely aware of the demands on women and women's organizations in this country. There were presentations and discussions regarding the following issues: pornography, solicitation laws under the Criminal Code, pensions, the Charter of Rights, native women's rights, child care tax credits, the peace movement, and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The recognition that each of these issues is of vital importance to the women of Canada is an understatement.
It was overwhelming to me, to have all of these issues presented collectively. Each person who presented their concern asked other women to be aware of their issue and to give support to it. Added to this list , in my mind, was the work of CCLOW and the issue of women's learning. The work load seemed enormous.
Since the consultation, I have reflected on the demands that I feel are placed on feminist women. For example, during the recent lobby to save the Women's Division in Saskatchewan, some people were heard to say "Why didn't you women do something about this before the announced cuts?" I am aware of the absence of applications by women's' organizations to the Skills Growth fund under the National Training Act to provide for bridging programs to fill the gap between womens' learning needs and realistic training programs. I am also aware of the lack of women's organizations or women who are paid to specifically concern themselves with womens' issues. Each issue that women face must be done by volunteer commitment and time.
While I recognize the value of volunteerism in our society, I am questioning the value of expecting women to do a dollar job for the 10¢ we receive from government funding agencies. We do what is expected of us in our workplace, in our homes and in the Women's Movement, but I am wondering how long we can keep this up. Women are "burning out".
Clearly what is needed in my mind, is for women to collectively say "ENOUGH". "We will no longer try to do the impossible on shoe string budgets."
To that end, the Social Issues committee of CCLOW is asking Mr. Axworthy to provide us with funds to hire people to research how women can access the resources available under the NTA. It does no good for legislation to be passed that allows for women to access funds for training and not to build in mechanisms that allow women to access these very funds and then blame women for not wanting what the government has allowed for. Let us hope that this time and in the future we will circumvent that process.