Setting the Stage for the Next Century:  
                   The Federal Plan for Gender Equality

















Status of Women Canada 

Condition féminine Canada



Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Canada, Status of Women Canada

Setting the stage for the next century: the federal plan for gender
equality

Text in English and French
Title on added t.p. inverted: A l'aube du XXIeme siecle,
ISBN 0-662-61951-X
Cat. no. SW21-15/1995

1.    Women - Canada - Social conditions.
2.    Women - Canada - Economic conditions.
3.    Women - Legal status, laws, etc. - Canada.
4.    Affirmative action programs - Government policy - Canada.
I.    Title.
II.   Title: The federal plan for gender equality.

HQ1236.5C3S47 1995 305.4'0971 C95-980209-E

Status of Women Canada
Suite 700
360 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1C3
(613) 995-7835

August 1995

Design and production: Staigh Associates Limited

SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE NEXT CENTURY:
THE FEDERAL PLAN FOR GENDER EQUALITY

On the eve of the new century, we, as Canadians live in a time of
accelerated change.  Almost every aspect of our lives is being reshaped -
from relationships within our families to relationships in the global
community, and, of course, relationships between women and men.

The quest for gender equality has been a vigorous and vital stream of
change in Canada in the last three decades, a current that cuts across all
the issues of the day and touches each of our lives.  Gender equality, by
definition, involves both women and men as partners in the quest for
fairness and in the benefits of equality.  These changes will be vital to
the future well-being of our daughters and sons.  

As we approach the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in
Beijing, the remaining question is - how do we move forward from here? 
More importantly, what role can each of us play in ensuring that women in
Canada, and around the world, have the same opportunities as men to
participate in, and contribute to society and to reap its benefits equally? 


There is no question that women - and men - are living in a better Canada
because of advances in gender equality.  These advances have created change
in the workplace, in public policy and public attitudes, and in our
individual lives.  

Canada and its people remain committed not only to the principle of gender
equality but also to action that makes equality reality - even in these
uncertain times.  That means adapting our strategies for the times.  In
this report, Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for
Gender Equality, the government outlines its contributions to solutions. 
The Federal Plan strengthens the government's commitments to equality and
sets a course to accelerate that progress.

Though we live in economically challenging times, gender equality is not a
bonus of good times.  Equality rights are human rights - a basic principle
that shapes the way we live, in good times and hard times.  We must take
responsibility for the choices we make between cutting costs today and
missing out on the immediate and longer-term benefits of an investment in
gender equality.

The movement today is toward smaller and more cost-efficient government. 
In this spirit, the Plan proposes to effect change economically - through
gender-based analysis, for example.  It will change the way government
looks at issues, designs programs, develops policies and enacts
legislation.  It will change the impact of government on the lives of women
by including the perspectives of women.  A relatively straightforward
change in approach that promises far-reaching results.

Still, there is no one answer, no one action, no one player that can make
equality happen.  Gender equality is everybody's business.  This Plan
confirms the Government's role as part of a broad-based partnership in
society, consulting and acting in concert with individuals and with public,
para-public and private institutions.  

Together, Canadians must advance gender equality in a complex and diverse
society.  Many factors - age, race, ethnocultural heritage, physical
disability, personal circumstances - result in many different perspectives
on equality.  We must recognize and respect the different interests,
different agendas and different aspirations that exist.

Many issues require attention: closing the gender gap in medical research
and health care; appreciating women not only as consumers but also as
contributors to public policies and to the public purse; sharing work and
family responsibilities equitably between women and men; valuing women's
work - both paid and unpaid; indeed, reintegrating market activity into the
larger sphere of economic activity generally.

Equality is a health issue, not only for women, but for the whole nation. 
In a sense, gender equality is like a lifestyle change for the health of
the nation.  The changes we make today, and every day to come, will have
lasting benefits.

In the new century, the nations considered the leaders of the world will be
those which have achieved gender equality.  They will be among other
advanced nations for whom human development is the true measure of wealth
and health.  More than an issue of social justice, gender equality will be
bundled with other forward-looking ideas.  It is a concept that understands
that the paramount human activity unfolds among individuals, in families
and communities, to sustain and enhance the human condition.  Formal
economic activity must be at the service of this primary activity.

Canada is esteemed for its international leadership on gender equality.  It
is a respect we shall continue to earn, and to deserve, into the 21st
century.



                                       (signature)
                                       Sheila Finestone
                                       Secretary of State (Status of Women)




                            TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary

Introduction

Advancing Gender Equality

      Equality Rights
      Federal Government Machinery for the Advancement of Women
      Provincial/Territorial Governments
      Societal Partners
      From Women's Equality to Gender Equality: Understanding the Concepts

The Federal Plan for Gender Equality

      Overview of The Federal Plan

      OBJECTIVE 1 - IMPLEMENT GENDER-BASED ANALYSIS 
      THROUGHOUT FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

      OBJECTIVE 2 - IMPROVE WOMEN'S ECONOMIC AUTONOMY 
      AND WELL-BEING

      OBJECTIVE 3 - IMPROVE WOMEN'S PHYSICAL AND 
      PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING

      OBJECTIVE 4 - REDUCE VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY,  PARTICULARLY 
      VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN

      OBJECTIVE 5 - PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY IN ALL ASPECTS 
      OF CANADA'S CULTURAL LIFE

      OBJECTIVE 6 - INCORPORATE WOMEN'S PERSPECTIVES IN 
      GOVERNANCE

      OBJECTIVE 7 - PROMOTE AND SUPPORT GLOBAL GENDER 
      EQUALITY

      OBJECTIVE 8 - ADVANCE GENDER EQUALITY FOR EMPLOYEES 
      OF FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

Conclusion

Index: Federal Departments and Agencies Involved


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE NEXT CENTURY:
THE FEDERAL PLAN FOR GENDER EQUALITY

Canada, along with all United Nations member countries, was called upon to
formulate a national plan to advance the situation of women, both within
its own borders and globally.  The Federal Plan for Gender Equality is
Canada's response to that request and its contribution toward the goals of
the global Platform for Action to be adopted at the Fourth United Nations
World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in September 1995.

The Federal Plan is a collaborative initiative reflecting the Government of
Canada's resolve to progress toward gender equality.  It is both a
statement of commitments and a framework for the future, representing the
concerted effort of 24 federal departments and agencies, spearheaded by
Status of Women Canada.

The Federal Plan begins with an overview of the actions and policies that
have brought Canada closer to its goal of equality for all its citizens. 
It acknowledges the firm commitment and tireless efforts of people and
organizations in every sector of Canadian life - governments at all levels,
women's organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), voluntary
organizations, and private-sector institutions - to achieve women's
equality.  It also acknowledges that there is still much work to be done.

The Federal Plan for Gender Equality recognizes the many different
realities for women in Canada.  These realities are the outcome not only of
gender, but also of age, race, class, national and ethnic origin, sexual
orientation, mental and physical disability, region, language and religion. 
Equality, the document states, can be achieved only by valuing this
diversity.  

The Federal Plan defines the elusive concept of gender equality,
emphasizing that it refers not to women and men but to the relationship
between them and to the ways in which their roles are socially constructed. 
Attaining gender equality is predicated on the achievement of equal
outcomes for both women and men.  The document recognizes that, despite
progress, women have not achieved full equality with men nor gained equal
access to all levels of decision making in Canadian society.

The Federal Plan for Gender Equality starts with the premise that both men
and women must be involved in the quest for an equitable society and that
benefits will accrue to both.  It acknowledges that building and
strengthening partnerships among women and between women and men, and among
universities, community groups, NGOs, the private sector and all levels of
government will be increasingly vital in the next few years, as shifting
resources demand more effective and informed policy options.  

The genesis of The Federal Plan's approach lies in the Government of
Canada's recognition that horizontal collaboration among federal government
departments and agencies is key to its successful implementation.  Building
on existing government initiatives, the document proposes new avenues for
action.  It is expected that The Federal Plan will continue to evolve as
departments and agencies update and elaborate their initiatives within a
changing context, brought about by the major government renewal begun in
1994 and emerging domestic and global socio-economic trends.  

The Federal Plan documents some of the salient global and domestic issues
to be addressed in the movement toward full equality for women and men of
Canada, and highlights broad directions that will guide future federal
initiatives around eight major objectives.  These objectives, fully taking
into account the principal areas of critical concern, are outlined in the
Beijing draft Platform for Action.


The document also elaborates a more detailed description of government
commitments centred on these eight objectives.  

Objective 1:       Implement Gender-based Analysis throughout Federal
Departments and Agencies, puts forward a systematic process to inform and
guide future legislation and policies at the federal level by assessing any
potential differential impact on women and men.  Hence, this objective
underpins all subsequent objectives.

Objective 2:       Improve Women's Economic Autonomy and Well-being,
promotes the valuation of paid and unpaid work performed by women, women's
equitable participation in the paid and unpaid labour force and the
equitable sharing of work and family responsibilities between women and
men; encourages women's entrepreneurship; and promotes the economic
security and well-being of women.

Objective 3:       Improve Women's Physical and Psychological Well-being,
advances a women's health strategy that fully acknowledges and responds to
the nature of women's lives, in research, policy development and practices
in the health sector.  

Objective 4:       Reduce Violence in Society, Particularly Violence against
Women and Children, strengthens existing measures to reduce violence
against women within the overall context of federal efforts to reduce
violence in our society generally.

Objective 5:       Promote Gender Equality in All Aspects of Canada's
Cultural Life, strengthens the commemoration of women's diverse
contributions to Canada's history, improves their access to the means of
cultural expression, promotes their participation in cultural life and
supports the realistic and positive portrayal of women in the popular
culture and the mass media.  

Objective 6:       Incorporate Women's Perspectives in Governance,
contributes to achieving the active participation of women from diverse
experiences and fields, and equal access to all levels of decision making.

Objective 7:       Promote and Support Global Gender Equality, reaffirms
Canada's international leadership role in promoting gender equality
globally.  

Objective 8:       Advance Gender Equality for Employees of Federal
Departments and Agencies, contributes to the equitable opportunities and
outcomes for federal women employees.

Within the framework of each of these objectives, the 24 participating
federal departments 
and agencies have examined their policies, programs and activities and have
identified actions that will improve gender equality over the coming years.

At the close of the 20th century, the Government of Canada is resolved to
improve the status of women in Canada and around the world by adopting
strategies that advance gender equality, that help women attain economic
autonomy and well-being and that provide security from violence to their
health and person.  It recognizes that this is a critical part of its
responsibility to sustain a society that values and treats all its members
with dignity and respect.  In the face of the complex social, political,
cultural and economic realities of today, this is not something that can be
achieved overnight.  The persistence of gender inequality underlines the
need for a long-term vision.  The Federal Plan for Gender Equality is the
blueprint for that vision.


INTRODUCTION 

Canada approaches the 21st century with a firm resolve to improve the
status of women in Canada and around the world by adopting strategies that
advance gender equality, help women attain economic autonomy and well-being
and provide security from violence to their health and person.  The
Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that women design and
participate in the processes and events that shape their lives.  These
commitments are an integral part of its policy toward the human development
of its people and the sustainable development of the country.  Attaining
these goals in a world marked by fast-pace change is both a challenge and
an opportunity.  

PROGRESS OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN CANADA

1916 -       First provinces give women right to vote - Alberta,
             Saskatchewan and Manitoba
1918 -       Women are given full federal right to vote
1920 -       Women are given right to be elected to Parliament
1921 -       First woman elected to the House of Commons
1928 -       Supreme Court of Canada decides that women are not "persons"
             and cannot be appointed to the Senate of Canada
1929 -       British Privy Council overturns Supreme Court decision
1930 -       First woman Senator
1952 -       First province enacts equal pay legislation - Ontario
1955 -       Restrictions on the employment of married women in the federal
             public service are removed
1956 -       Legislation is enacted guaranteeing equal pay for equal work
             within federal jurisdiction
1957 -       First woman Cabinet Minister
1961 -       Canadian Bill of Rights is passed
1977 -       Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination on the basis
             of sex and ensures equal pay for work of equal value for
             women; Canadian Labour Code is similarly amended and provides
             for 17 weeks of maternity leave
1978 -       Canadian Labour Code is amended, eliminating pregnancy as a
             basis for lay-off or dismissal
1982 -       Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 28, is enacted
             - Charter guarantees apply equally to men and women
1983 -       Canadian Human Rights Act is amended to prohibit sexual
             harassment and to ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy
             and family or marital status
1984 -       First woman Governor General
1984 -       Canadian Constitution is amended to affirm that Aboriginal and
             treaty rights are guaranteed equally to both men and women
1985 -       Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms comes
             into effect, guaranteeing equality for all Canadians before
             and under law and equal protection and benefit of law
1985 -       Court Challenges Program expanded to address equality rights
             cases
1985 -       Indian Act is amended, restoring status and right to band
             membership to Indian women who had last such status through
             marriage to a non-Indian
1986 -       Employment Equity Act is introduced, applicable to Crown
             corporations and federally regulated business, aimed at
             redressing historic and systemic discrimination of "target
             group" populations
1993 -       Guidelines on women refugee claimants are instituted for the
             Immigration and Refugee Board
1994 -       Funding for equality test cases is reinstated as Charter Law
             Development Program
1995 -       Gender-based analysis of legislation and policies is adopted by
             the federal government

The challenges of the future will be no less daunting than those already
encountered in the past.  As a society, we must adapt to broad demographic
shifts, evolving cultural patterns, mounting environmental concerns,
growing disparities between rich and poor, pressures of global economic
restructuring and sweeping social changes brought about by the new
technological revolution.  Governments at all levels must work to ease the
transition to this new order. Improving gender equality is part of
governments' responsibility to sustain a society that values all its
members and treats them with dignity and respect.  History has taught us
that there are few quick-fix solutions to such complex social, political,
cultural and economic realities; the persistence of gender inequality
underscores the need for a long-term vision.  The Federal Plan for Gender
Equality sets the stage for Canada's venture into this new era.

Canada is proud of its progress in advancing women's equality.  Combined
efforts of governments - federal, provincial, territorial and municipal -
of women's organizations, NGOs, professional associations, academic
institutions and private-sector organizations and businesses, have brought
about remarkable changes over a very short period.  Canada has enacted
extensive civil and criminal law reforms focused on issues such as violence
against women, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child abuse and gun
control; has supported NGOs dealing with equality issues; and has put in
place government machinery for the advancement of women to ensure that
progress toward gender equality is steadily integrated into public policy. 
In Canada, there are higher enrollments and levels of graduation of women
in post-secondary institutions, greater recognition of women's specific
health care needs, rising levels of women's participation in the political
process and greater representation of women in positions of economic power. 
Progress in all these areas has improved the quality of the lives of women
and men in Canada.  However, in other areas, such as poverty, inequalities
stubbornly persist.  

The year 1995 is an anniversary year for Canada.  Ten years ago the
equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came
into effect.  It is also the 25th anniversary of the report of the Royal
Commission on the Status of Women, a landmark study of women in Canada that
made more than 150 recommendations to foster equality between women and
men.  

As well, in September of 1995, thousands of women from all over the world
will gather in Beijing, China, at the Fourth United Nations World
Conference on Women.  It is here that governments, having reviewed the
situation of women over the past decade, will adopt a global Platform for
Action to accelerate progress toward gender equality.  All U.N.  member
states are being called upon to formulate national plans to further this
objective.  

This document is the Government of Canada's response to that call.  The
Federal Plan for Gender Equality is a collaborative initiative reflecting
the federal government's commitment to gender equality and represents the
concerted effort of 24 departments and agencies.  The first two chapters of
the document set out the context for the plan and discuss the concept of
equality.  The Federal Plan identifies eight key objectives focused on
improving the status of women in various dimensions.  Under each objective,
issues are identified and priorities for action are outlined.  These
objectives are congruent with the 12 areas of action identified in the
United Nations' draft Platform for Action, and with the United Nations' and
Commonwealth's requests to institutionalize gender-based analysis in the
processes of legislation, policy and program development. 

OBJECTIVES OF THE FEDERAL PLAN

1.    Implement gender-based analysis throughout federal departments and
agencies.
2.    Improve women's economic autonomy and well-being.
3.    Improve women's physical and psychological well-being.
4.    Reduce violence in society, particularly violence against women and
children.
5.    Promote gender equality in all aspects of Canada's cultural life.
6.    Incorporate women's perspective in governance.
7.    Promote and support global gender equality.
8.    Advance gender equality for employees of federal departments and
agencies.


ADVANCING GENDER EQUALITY

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other equality-seeking
laws, Canada's international obligations and commitments, federal,
provincial and territorial government machinery for improving the status of
women, the well-developed network of women's organizations across the
country, and societal partners have been, and will continue to be, central
to advancing gender equality.

EQUALITY RIGHTS

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides constitutional
protection for gender equality.  Section 15 prohibits discrimination based
on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental
or physical disability.  Section 28 provides that the rights and freedoms
described in the Charter are guaranteed equally to women and men. 
Generally speaking, the Charter applies to relationships between an
individual and government, rather than between individuals.

SECTIONS 15 AND 28 OF THE
CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

15.   (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the
right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without
discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race,
national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or
physical disability.

      (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity
that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged
individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of
race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or
physical disability.

28.   Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms
referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.


In Andrews vs. the B.C. Law Society, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed
that the purpose of the equality provision in the Charter is to protect
from discrimination, groups that suffer social, political and legal
disadvantage in our society.  Discrimination can result if either the
purpose or effect of a law is to impose a disadvantage on members of such a
group compared to other members of society.  To approach the ideal of full
equality before and under the law, the main consideration must be the
impact of the law on the individual or group.  The Court firmly rejected
the "same or identical treatment" standard of equality, recognizing that
"...  every difference in treatment between individuals under the law will
not necessarily result in inequality, and, as well, that identical
treatment may frequently produce serious inequality."  Discrimination is
not a mere finding of distinction between the treatment of groups or
individuals: it must involve a disadvantage.  Equality, therefore, is
served by government policies that recognize and take account of the
specific circumstances of Canadians who, on the basis of an inherent
attribute such as colour or gender, are in a position of social, political
or legal disadvantage.

In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Act also provides protection for
women's equality by prohibiting discriminatory practices based on race,
national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status,
family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon
has been granted.  The Act provides a mechanism for addressing complaints
made by individuals or groups that involve government programs, policies or
legislation and discriminatory acts in employment or services involving
federally regulated companies which includes 11 percent of the Canadian
work force - the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is restricted to
government actions only.  The Act explicitly prohibits sexual harassment
and requires all employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value to
all employees.

INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS AND COMMITMENTS

Equality between women and men is enshrined in the Charter of the United
Nations which marks its 50th anniversary this year, and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.  It is also inherent in major U.N.  legally
binding covenants on human rights, political and civil rights and economic,
social and cultural rights, to which Canada is a party.  More recently, the
1979 U.N.  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) further defined the objectives and measures necessary
to achieve gender equality in both public and private life.  CEDAW
recognizes that the effects of legislation must be taken into account in
determining whether it is discriminatory, and that positive-action measures
are sometimes necessary to correct historical patterns of discrimination. 
Canada ratified CEDAW in 1981.  The U.N.  Declaration on the Elimination of
Violence Against Women, adopted by the General Assembly in 1993, was a
Canadian initiative.  

Many other agreements respond to developments in the international
environment, such as the impact of economic restructuring on women or
recognition of violence against women, an issue not found in CEDAW.  The
Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies, in effect from 1985 to 2000, provide a
comprehensive blueprint for action on a wide range of socio-economic,
political and cultural issues.  The Beijing draft Platform for Action
concentrates on critical priorities for accelerating gender equality over
the next five years.  The global goal of gender equality is supported by
the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and is an
integral part of agreements reached at recent world conferences on children
(New York, 1990), the environment (UNCED, Rio de Janeiro, 1992), human
rights (Vienna, 1993), population and development (ICPD, Cairo, 1994) and
social development (WSSD, Copenhagen, 1995).  This goal is also reflected
in the ongoing work of U.N.  bodies, such as the World Health Organization
(WHO), the U.N.  Environment Program (UNEP), UNICEF, UNESCO, the regional
economic commissions and the World Bank.

Other agreements guide Canada as a member of various international
organizations.  The Inter-American Commission for Women of the Organization
of the American States (OAS), established in the 1920s, has developed the
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of
Violence Against Women.  The Commonwealth has racial equality as its
founding principle.  The principle of gender equality was incorporated more
recently, and gender analysis and planning have been rapidly developed by
the Commonwealth as a highly effective way to achieve results.  The 1991
Ottawa Declaration on Women and Structural Adjustment and the draft
Commonwealth Plan on Gender and Development, to be adopted later this year,
reflect this work.  The Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD), in addition to Working Party No.  6 on the Role of
Women in the Economy and the Women and Development Group of the Development
Assistance Committee, has established a policy of integrating women's
concerns into all its work.  Because other OECD countries are similar in
many ways to Canada, OECD agreements and comparative studies are
particularly important to the development of Canadian policy.

Canada has led in international co-operation on gender issues, including
promoting an enhanced and collaborative role for women's NGOs.  All federal
government departments and agencies, within their respective areas of
expertise and responsibility, seek to advance gender equality through their
work with other countries and international organizations.  Within Canada's
foreign policy, Women in Development is one of the six priorities of the
Official Development Assistance Program.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MACHINERY FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN

Beginning in 1976, a number of Canada's federal departments and agencies
established mechanisms to integrate women's concerns into policy
formulation.

The creation of Status of Women Canada (SWC) in 1976 was a major step in
this development.  As the federal government agency mandated by
Order-in-Council 1976-779 and the Appropriation Act 1976-77 to "coordinate
policy with respect to the status of women and to administer related
programs,"  SWC provides leadership, expertise and strategic advice to the
Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and to federal government
departments and agencies on issues affecting women.  Through policy
research, analysis and development, international and intergovernmental
activities, funding, technical assistance and communication, SWC actively
promotes the integration of gender equality in all federal government
initiatives.  

SWC's regional structure allows it to establish and maintain contact with
women's organizations across the country, providing a mechanism for them to
make their concerns known.  

SWC analyzes ongoing and emerging issues and trends relevant to gender
equality benefits for policy makers in both government and the private
sector and promotes concrete changes in policies and programs affecting
women.  An independent research program supports the policy-related
process.  SWC maintains a documentation centre, archiving data and research
materials from studies of women's issues carried out by, or on behalf of,
SWC and has integrated collections from the Women's Program (formerly
within the Department of  Human Resources Development) and the Canadian
Advisory Council on the Status of Women (which has ceased operations).  SWC
funds national, regional and local women's organizations and other groups
in support of their work to promote gender equality and long-term systemic
changes.  

At the federal level, SWC develops and maintains strategic links with the
provincial and territorial governments and monitors developments in the
provinces and territories relative to gender equality, education and
training for women and the issues of violence against women.  It also
chairs intergovernmental senior officials' meetings and committees relative
to these areas.

At the international level, SWC collaborates with the Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) and other federal government departments, to represent and
promote the federal government's commitment to women's global equality. 
SWC represents Canada internationally at meetings of organizations such as
the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, the Commonwealth,
the OECD and the Inter-American Commission on the Status of Women of the
OAS.

SWC disseminates information on national and international issues of
interest and concern to women and ensures that federal government
initiatives to advance gender equality are communicated to the public.

PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENTS

Under the Canadian Constitution, the provinces and territories have primary
jurisdiction in the areas of education, the administration of justice,
social services and health care delivery.  The advancement of women's
equality is thus largely influenced by actions taken by provincial and
territorial governments.

In Strategies for Population Health developed in 1994 by federal,
provincial and territorial ministries of health, it was recognized that
income and social status, social support networks, education and the
environment all play a role in the well-being of Canada's men, women and
children.

For many years, for instance, labour laws and practices have been in place
to address issues such as employment equity and pay equity.  Several
provincial governments have implemented employment equity plans.  Every
province and territory has legislation requiring pay for similar, or
substantially similar, work.  Several provinces also have pay equity
legislation, mostly applicable to the public service and public
institutions.  Increasingly, responsibility for training and retraining
workers has been assumed by provincial governments, which are also
responsible for the delivery of child-care services - an important
condition for achieving women's economic equality.

Addressing violence against women has been a key priority of all provinces
and territories.  Every jurisdiction has been involved in a range of
initiatives including designing and setting up crisis shelter models,
public education campaigns, setting up joint provincial government
departments and community agencies' advisory committees, humanizing the
legal system for survivors, funding sexual assault centres, transition
houses, training programs for police and treatment programs for assaultive
men.

Since 1982, there has been a productive partnership and collaboration among
the federal, provincial and territorial governments to advance women's
equality through the efforts of the Ministers Responsible for the Status of
Women.  Meeting on an annual basis, Ministers have, among other things,
worked together on public policy issues and raised public awareness on
issues of concern to women.

They have addressed issues such as violence against women, education and
training, gender equality in the justice system, the harmonization of work
and family responsibilities, and women's economic future.  They have also
met with other sectoral Ministers to advance women's and girls' equality in
areas such as the educational system.

At their 1995 annual meeting, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers
Responsible for the Status of Women supported a gender-based approach to
policy development and agreed "on the importance of having gender-based
analysis undertaken as an integral part of the policy process of
government."

Collaboration among the federal, provincial and territorial governments is
undertaken through the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Status of Women
machinery of government to achieve women's equality.  

SOCIETAL PARTNERS

Women's issues are society's issues.  When successfully resolved, both
women and men will reap the benefits.  The federal government is committed
to continuing work with its many societal partners to advance gender
equality.  Women's and other professional organizations, public- and
private-sector organizations, businesses and academic institutions have all
played an active role in advancing gender equality.  They have achieved
this through community action, the development of professional standards,
research and other activities.  

In Canada, the voluntary sector has a long tradition in improving the
status of women.  For one, the well-developed network of women's
organizations contributes to the setting of  local and national agendas for
gender equality, providing direct services to women and children, and
educating all sectors of the public and government on issues relevant to
gender equality.  The extent to which violence against women and children
has become a leading area of public policy is an outstanding example of how
women's voices and experiences have shaped legislation, policies and
programs in recent years.  Much of this contribution could not have
occurred without thousands of individuals and organizations in communities
donating their time and expertise to ameliorate the lives of women.  

For its part, the private sector has a responsibility as a corporate
citizen to advance the situation of women in Canadian society and it has
taken up the challenge.  Banks are among the many institutions which have
introduced programs in support of work and family harmonization.  Such
programs exemplify the combined efforts of various partners, including
industry, unions, professional associations and public organizations. 
Corporations have also collaborated with governments to sponsor training
and retraining programs for women entering the paid labour market. 
Private-sector organizations have also led major fund-raising campaigns to
support initiatives such as public education on violence against women.  

As large-scale economic, political, social and cultural transformations
take place, partnerships between governments, industry and the voluntary
sector will continue to play a crucial role in advancing gender equality. 
The Federal Plan documents some of the instances of such collaboration.


FROM WOMEN'S EQUALITY TO GENDER EQUALITY: UNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPTS 

The concept of women's equality is rooted in history, and has evolved in
relation to changing social, economic and political conditions.  At the
turn of the century, the emerging women's movement in the developed world
focused its efforts on achieving what has become known as "formal
equality," characterized by a struggle for the same treatment,
opportunities and privileges for women as for men.  One of the early
successes, of course, was women's gaining the right to vote.  Despite these
changes, women have not achieved full equality with men nor gained equal
access to the decision-making process.


WHAT IS GENDER EQUALITY?

Gender equality means that women and men have equal conditions for
realizing their full human rights and potential and to contribute to
national political, economic, social and cultural development and benefit
equally from the results.  Equality is essential for human development and
peace.

Attaining gender equality demands a recognition that current social,
economic, cultural, and political systems are gendered; that women's
unequal status is systemic; that this pattern is further affected by race,
ethnicity and disability; and that it is necessary to incorporate women's
specificity, priorities and values into all major social
institutions.Treating women and men identically will not ensure equal
outcomes because women and men occupy different social levels and
experience different living situations.Barriers to equality are rooted in
long-standing attitudes and traditions not only about women, but also about
race, age, sexual orientation, disability, colour, etc.  In particular, the
life situations of women outside the dominant culture - women with
disabilities, Aboriginal women, women from visible minorities, elderly
women, lesbians, lone mothers, women in poverty - are quite different from
the mainstream.  For them, the path to equality has been, and continues to
be, even more difficult.  Equality for all women will come about only as
these attitudes, imbedded in the workplace, educational institutions and
the family, are challenged and begin to change.  To achieve true equality,
actions must be taken that adjust for the differences in experiences and
situations between women and men, and among women, and that correct the
systemic nature of inequality.  This notion of "substantive" equality
acknowledges the systemic and structural nature of inequality.  It
recognizes that both freedom from discrimination and positive actions are
required to arrive at equal outcomes.

In recent years, the concept of gender equality has gained prominence.  As
outlined in the draft 1995 Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and
Development:

...  "gender" ...  is used sometimes indiscriminately to describe different
things at different times.  Sometimes it means "women," sometimes "sex" and
sometimes more precisely "gender"....  Gender refers not to men and women,
but to the relationship between them and to the ways in which the roles of
women and men, girls and boys are socially constructed ...1/ 

To achieve gender equality, the social arrangements that govern the
relationship between men and women will have to change to give equal value
to the different roles they play, as parents, as workers, as elected
officials and others; to foster equal partnership in the decision-making
process; and to build a just and equitable society.


THE FEDERAL PLAN FOR GENDER EQUALITY

OVERVIEW OF THE FEDERAL PLAN

1     The Federal Plan for Gender Equality reflects Canada's commitment to
"building together an independent country that is economically strong,
socially just, proud of its diversity, and characterized by integrity,
compassion, and competence."2/  Canada has been built on values that
recognize the role of all Canadians to work together to provide an
environment that nurtures and protects each individual's unique
characteristics and potential.  The Federal Plan reflects the federal
government's belief that "jobs, health care, a safe and sustainable
environment, equality for men and women, care for the very young and the
aged, and the alleviation of poverty are societal issues that cannot be
addressed simply by each individual aggressively pursuing immediate, narrow
self-interest."3/

2     The Federal Plan for Gender Equality recognizes and values the many
different realities for women in Canada.  These realities are the outcome
not only of gender, but also of age, race, class, national and ethnic
origin, sexual orientation, mental and physical disability, region,
language and religion.  History has revealed that treating men and women in
the same way does not assure equality.  Treating all women identically is
not the answer either; such "equal" treatment ignores the unique
experiences of their lives.

3     The Federal Plan for Gender Equality also acknowledges that
legislation and policy can have different effects on women and men.  Within
its own jurisdiction, the federal government is committed to making these
outcomes transparent.  The Federal Plan places high priority on
implementing a systematic gender-based analysis to facilitate this process. 

4     Discovering new ways to develop and implement public policy is part
of the challenge.  Given the cross-cutting nature of gender issues,
horizontal collaboration among federal government departments and agencies
is key.  The Federal Plan builds on existing government initiatives and
proposes new avenues for action.  While the government has undertaken a
number of specific new commitments, it is expected that The Federal Plan
will continue to evolve as departments and agencies update and elaborate
their initiatives within a changing context, brought about by a major
government renewal begun in 1994 and by emerging national and global
socio-economic trends.  

5     Indeed, this Federal Plan comes at a time when the federal government
of Canada is in a period of transition characterized by changes in the size
and structure of departments and agencies; reviews of major social and
economic policies that will bear on the sharing of federal and
provincial/territorial responsibilities; the devolution of some powers to
other levels of government, including Aboriginal self-government; and
intense fiscal pressures.  The document has been developed with an
appreciation for the profound demographic changes occurring in the country
and for its multicultural, multilingual, multiracial society with two
official languages.  Although this period of transition presents a
challenge for the implementation of The Federal Plan for Gender Equality,
it also provides an opportunity to introduce changes to the way government
legislation and policies are analyzed - changes that will enhance the
government's ability to meet its commitment to gender equality.  

6     The Federal Plan helps to ensure that government departments and
agencies continue to move toward gender equality while the process of
restructuring and redefining governments' roles unfolds.  The Federal Plan
is in line with the ongoing program review: its equality-seeking measures
are in the public interest as they strengthen the economy and safeguard
human rights; these measures are appropriate to the federal government as
legislator, policy maker, program deliverer and employer; and efficiency is
served because equitable policy making averts difficulties which would
ensue if gender were not taken into account.  

7     The Federal Plan for Gender Equality starts with the premise that
both men and women must be involved in the quest for an equitable society
and that benefits will accrue to both.  It acknowledges that building and
strengthening partnerships among women and between women and men, and among
universities, community groups, NGOs, the private sector and all levels of
government will be increasingly vital in the next few years, as shifting
resources demand more effective and informed policy options.  

8     The Federal Plan documents some of the salient global and domestic
issues to be addressed in the movement toward full equality for women and
men of Canada, and highlights broad directions that will guide future
federal initiatives.  Participating federal departments and agencies have
examined their policies, programs and activities and have identified
actions to improve gender equality over the coming years.  These actions
are organized around eight key objectives and reflect the critical areas
for action in the Beijing draft Platform for Action.

Eight Objectives:

9     Objective 1, Implement Gender-based Analysis throughout Federal
Departments and Agencies, informs and guides the legislation and policy
process at the federal level and, hence, underpins gender equality in all
sectors addressed in the subsequent objectives.

10    Objective 2, Improve Women's Economic Autonomy and Well-being,
promotes the valuation of paid and unpaid work performed by women, women's
equitable participation in the paid and unpaid labour force and the
equitable sharing of work and family responsibilities between women and
men; encourages women's entrepreneurship; and promotes the economic
security and well-being of women.

11    Objective 3, Improve Women's Physical and Psychological Well-being,
contributes to a women's health strategy that fully acknowledges and
responds to the nature of women's lives, in research, policy development
and practices in the health sector.  

12    Objective 4, Reduce Violence in Society, Particularly Violence
against Women and Children, strengthens existing measures to reduce
violence against women within the overall context of federal efforts to
reduce violence in our society generally.

13    Objective 5, Promote Gender Equality in All Aspects of Canada's
Cultural Life, strengthens the commemoration of women's diverse
contributions to Canada's history, improves their access to the means of
cultural expression, promotes their participation in cultural life and
supports the realistic and positive portrayal of women in the popular
culture and the mass media.  

14    Objective 6, Incorporate Women's Perspectives in Governance,
contributes to achieving the active participation of women from diverse
experiences and fields, and equal access to all levels of decision making.

15    Objective 7, Promote and Support Global Gender Equality, reaffirms
Canada's international leadership role in promoting gender equality
globally.  

16    Objective 8, Advance Gender Equality for Employees of Federal
Departments and Agencies, contributes to equitable opportunities and
outcomes for federal women employees.  

17    The Federal Plan for Gender Equality has been developed in a fiscally
responsible way.  It provides a framework that encourages participation and
the building of partnerships within and across government, as well as
between government and the public.  Presenting this blueprint for future
direction at the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women enhances
accountability and helps the federal government chart its course toward
gender equality in Canada.


OBJECTIVE 1 - IMPLEMENT GENDER-BASED ANALYSIS THROUGHOUT FEDERAL
DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

18    Adopting a systematic, integrative, planning-based approach to policy
is not new.  It is the foundation of good public policy making.  The 1995
Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and Development calls for a
gender-based management system involving analysis, training, budgeting and
accounting.  Similarly, the draft U.N. Platform for Action also calls for
member states to "analyze from a gender perspective, policies and
programmes ..."  Indeed, a gender-based approach to policy development and
analysis is being carried out by the governments of British Columbia,
Australia and New Zealand.  A gender-based approach is being set up in
Colombia and Bolivia, and all Scandinavian countries are moving toward a
consistent application of this approach.  It is also being promoted by the
European Union.

WHAT IS GENDER-BASED ANALYSIS?

Gender-based analysis is intrinsic to quality policy analysis.

      Gender analysis is based on the standpoint that policy cannot be
separated from the social context, and that social issues are an integral
part of economic issues.  Social impact analysis, including gender
analysis, is not just an add-on, to be considered after costs and benefits
have been assessed, but an integral part of good policy analysis.*

Gender-based analysis identifies how public policies differentially affect
women and men.  In some cases, gender issues may be significant to the
policy, and play a determining role.  In other cases, they may be less
significant to the outcome, and constitute a set of factors to be weighed
with others.  While gender implications may not be obvious in the first
stage of analysis, they may emerge later.  Therefore, gender questions
should be raised throughout the analytical process.

For example, it is often assumed that structural adjustment programs will
have a neutral gender impact and are not appropriate for gender-based
analysis.  However, gender-based analysis will make transparent issues such
as the over-representation of women in lower-paying jobs and the
differential effect economic restructuring and any adjustment policies will
therefore have on women, given their current lower economic and social
status relative to men.

Gender-based analysis is supported by tools, such as gender-disaggregated
data, gender-sensitive equality indicators, and guidelines and criteria,
for assessing when gender is likely to be an issue in the development of
policies.

*     Source:  Robin McKinley, Gender Analysis of Policy (Draft), Ministry
of Women's Affairs, New Zealand, 1993.

19    Within the Canadian federal government, Status of Women Canada has
been conducting gender-based analysis since 1976.  CIDA, Canada's key
development agency, adopted gender as a factor in the development process
more than 10 years ago, and has successfully had this process implemented
in the public-policy process in many developing countries with which it
works.  Other federal departments, such as Justice, Human Resources
Development and Indian Affairs and Northern Development, are also beginning
to implement gender-based analysis.  

20    At their 14th annual meeting held on May 26, 1995, federal,
provincial and territorial Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women
agreed "on the importance of having gender-based analysis undertaken as an
integral part of the policy process of government."

21    Introducing gender analysis in the developmental stage of a policy is
more efficient and potentially less costly in human and social terms for
women.  Since it helps identify any negative impacts the policy might have
on women, it leads to more effective public policy while providing greater
opportunities for the economic and social development of Canadians.


22    Gender-based analysis begins with the assumption that social,
economic, cultural and political arrangements are entwined with all public
policy.  Such a complex reality requires a complex set of policy responses. 
Central to this assumption is the need to assess the different impacts that
policies may have on women and men.  Such assessments imbed gender-based
analysis within the legislative and policy process, safeguard against
costly and inefficient public policies which may not address women's needs
and ensure the development of sound public policies.

23    A gender-based approach ensures that the development, analysis and
implementation of legislation and policies are undertaken with an
appreciation of gender differences.  This includes an understanding of the
nature of relationships between men and women, and the different social
realities, life expectations and economic circumstances facing women and
men.  It also acknowledges that some women may be disadvantaged even
further because of their race, colour, sexual orientation, socio-economic
position, region, ability level or age.  A gender-based analysis respects
and appreciates diversity.

PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

24    The federal government is committed through The Federal Plan to
ensuring that all future legislation and policies include, where
appropriate, an analysis of the potential for different impacts on women
and men.  Individual departments will be responsible for determining which
legislation or policies have the potential to affect women and men
differentially and are, therefore, appropriate for a consistent application
of a gender lens.

25    The federal government is committed to:

      - 26   the development and application of tools and methodologies for
carrying out gender-based analysis;

      - 27   training on gender-based analysis of legislation and policies; 

      - 28   the development of indicators to assess progress made toward
gender equality; 

      - 29   the collection and use of gender-disaggregated data as
appropriate; 

      - 30   the use of gender-sensitive language throughout the federal
government; and 

      - 31   the evaluation of the effectiveness of the gender-based
analysis process.  

32    Costs for implementing the gender-based approach will remain within
departmental allocations.  They include customary operational costs such as
training employees and conducting the analysis, both of which are part of
ongoing business costs.  

33    Status of Women Canada will collaborate with other governments and
federal departments and agencies in the staged implementation of a
gender-based analysis process, including the development of tools, training
materials and procedures, and the monitoring of the process itself.  In so
doing, SWC will draw on CIDA's 10 years of experience in using a
gender-based approach in its Women in Development Program (WID), the
experiences of other governments already using this approach and extensive
resource materials developed worldwide.

34    Individual departments and agencies will assume responsibility for
undertaking gender-based analysis as appropriate within their operational
spheres of activity.  Implementation of this approach is anticipated to be
phased in over the next five years as departments and agencies develop the
expertise and capacity to carry out the analysis.

35    The federal government will, where appropriate, ensure that critical
issues and policy options take gender into account.  Status of Women Canada
and other departments and agencies will continue to provide women's
organizations with direct access to information on the issues facing the
federal government.  This could include independent research,  holding
regular teleconferences with a range of representatives from major
organizations, and sharing information on key policy directions.  


OBJECTIVE 2 - IMPROVE WOMEN'S ECONOMIC AUTONOMY AND WELL-BEING

WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN THE ECONOMY

36    According to the United Nations,4/ women engage in longer work hours
than do men.  This is certainly true in Canada where women's work has
contributed significantly to the economy.  Almost two-thirds (63 percent in
1993 5/) of work to maintain and sustain families and communities,
including household work, meal preparation, child nurturing and care, care
of people with illness or disabilities, care of elderly persons, etc., is
done by women.  In the formal labour force, women's representation has
increased rapidly over the last few decades.  In 1993, 45 percent of all
paid workers were women, up from 36 percent in 1975, accounting for almost
three-quarters of all employment growth in Canada during this period.  As
well, approximately one-third of small- and medium-sized businesses in
Canada are owned and operated by women.  Women are very active in the
informal economy as well, although few data exist.6/

37    In spite of their contribution, women in Canada continue to receive
an unequal share of the benefits of their labour.  This lack of recognition
has limited their economic autonomy in critical ways.  The conflicting
demands of unpaid- and paid-work responsibilities create a considerable
drain on many women.  It can lead to women delaying their entry into paid
work; turning down opportunities for advancement, promotion or work
altogether; taking part-time rather than full-time work; avoiding
"non-traditional" occupations if perceived to be sources of additional
stress; not taking advantage of educational and training opportunities; or
foregoing the paid-work experience altogether, as is especially true in the
case of sole-support mothers.  It can also result in women being by-passed
for promotion or career advancement if they are perceived as not being
committed to their careers.  These limitations contribute to women's
over-representation among Canadians in poverty and have a long-term impact
on their pension benefits.

38    While some employers, including the federal government, have
developed work and family life policies and programs, such as on-site day
care, maternity/paternity leave, flexible hours and variable work weeks,
balancing work and family life is largely perceived as a women's issue
rather than a lifelong responsibility of both men and women.  

39    Unequal participation and progress in paid work further undermines a
woman's ability to achieve and sustain personal autonomy throughout her
life.  Women continue to experience job segregation, heavy demands on their
time for family and community responsibilities and are excluded from full
participation in economic decision making.  Despite gains made through pay
equity legislation, many women experience unequal pay for work of equal
value.  They are also more likely to be employed in part-time and
non-standard work arrangements and in retail and service occupations -
which provide low pay, few benefits and inadequate pensions.  Over the last
few years, macro-economic policies have created new entrepreneurial
opportunities in the marketplace; however, women continue to have
difficulty in expanding their participation.  

40    For some women, economic inequalities are further compounded by their
membership in groups that are disadvantaged compared to the rest of
Canadian society.  Aboriginal women, women who are members of visible
minorities, immigrant women and women with disabilities are more likely to
be in low-paying, physical labour positions with few or no benefits than
are other women in Canada.  While efforts have been made to address this
situation, inequities persist.

41    Emerging social and economic trends throughout the world threaten to
exacerbate gender inequities in the paid work world.  As countries such as
Canada move toward an information-based economy with emphasis on the
mobility of highly skilled workers, and with the globalization of world
trade, the resulting restructuring of paid work will increasingly benefit
those with a competitive edge.  Economic restructuring may also increase
the disadvantages facing women.  According to studies in OECD countries,7/
stabilization policies, for example, including government cuts on spending
and structural adjustment activities, may extend and deepen already
existing gender inequities in the paid and unpaid sectors of the economy.

42    While women workers of today may be better able to create adequate
retirement incomes for themselves, the pressure of global competition is
pushing more and more women toward non-standard, contract and part-time
work arrangements which do not provide pensions.  Such forms of work may
provide some immediate benefits to women who want a greater degree of
flexibility to deal with the conflicting demands on their time, but the
absence of adequate controls regulating hours, pay scales and benefits -
including pensions - may make women even more vulnerable than in the past.

43     While women contribute more hours of labour per day than men, they
earn, on average, less than men.  In 1993, women's full-time/full-year
earnings averaged 72 percent of men's.  One study reports that recent women
university graduates earned slightly more than their male counterparts;
however, for earlier graduates, the earnings gap is noticeably greater. 
Notwithstanding, university graduates represent a small portion of the
population; among recent community college graduates, the earnings gap
favoured men.  For most women in Canada, the discrepancy remains and widens
with age, one of the factors contributing to senior women's lower income
status as compared to men's.8/

44    Women face a higher risk of poverty than men.  In 1993, 56 percent of
all people below Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Off (LICO)9/ were
women.  This increased to 72 percent among those over age 64.  As such, 20
percent of all women, and nearly 30 percent of all women over age 64 fell
below the LICO.  This is a reflection of many factors, including women's
unequal share of the benefits of the unpaid labour they perform. 
Inadequate or delinquent support payments add to the risk of lone-parent
families headed by women falling into poverty, especially if the mothers
are not participating in the paid labour force because of their care giving
or other responsibilities.  This is also because social assistance payments
generally provide incomes well below the LICO.  In 1993, for example, 60
percent of lone-parent families headed by women were below the LICO,
compared to just 31 percent of similar families headed by men.  The
incidence of poverty among lone-parent families headed by women increased
to 93 percent in the case of families with no earners, compared with 46
percent of those with an earner.  

45    Children bear the brunt of women's economic inequality.  Of the
601,000 children in lone-parent families headed by women in 1993, 65
percent were below the LICO, compared to 18 percent of all children.

46    New public policy decisions, particularly in social and economic
reform, need to be based on a careful analysis of their impact on women's
real life situations.  Women's progress toward economic equality and
autonomy depends on how legislation, policies and programs deal with
women's social and economic realities.

PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

47    Federal legislation, policies and programs that are sensitive to the
reality of women's lives will contribute to an improvement in the economic
well-being of Canadian women.  The federal government is committed to:

      - 48   a gender-based analysis, where appropriate, of all economic and
socio-economic legislation and policy development, as a means of addressing
gender inequalities (see Objective 1); 

      - 49   identifying research gaps and anticipating emerging issues as
they may affect gender equality, as a basis for the development of
legislation and policy options (see Objective 1); 

      - 50   examining all federal legislation, regulations, policies,
pension and benefit programs based on personal relationships; and 

      - 51   studying the impact on gender equality of new information
technology and the move to non-standardized work, and exploring ways of
ensuring that women's economic well-being is not adversely affected by
these trends.

52    Specific federal actions to promote women's economic autonomy and
well-being will occur as appropriate within both sectoral and
inter-ministerial policy levels - including those departments and agencies
whose focus is not essentially economic.

53    The federal government is committed to continuing to assist
low-income women and children through projects that promote access to
affordable housing, that enable immigrant women to understand and access
social services and that support low-income women in isolated regions (see
Objectives 3 and 4).  One such project is a network of women's centres that
provides information, counseling and referral services to enable women to
take part in community development, entrepreneurial opportunities and
similar initiatives.  

54    The federal government will continue to build and foster linkages and
partnerships where appropriate with women's organizations, labour
organizations, employer groups, industry associations, labour-management
bodies, NGOs, and provincial and territorial governments to explore and
initiate ways to advance women's economic autonomy and well-being (see
Objective 1).

55    As announced in the 1995 Federal Budget, the Human Resources
Investment Fund will, among other activities, support initiatives to
improve workplaces, increase employability of women and support provincial
initiatives to address the child-care needs of women in the paid labour
force and women working in rural communities, to assist Canadian women to
achieve economic equality and well-being.

Social and Economic Policy Reform and Women's Autonomy and Economic
Well-being

56    In December 1994, the federal government announced a new initiative,
Building a More Innovative Economy.  It provides the foundation for a new
approach to the way the federal government exercises leadership in the
Canadian economy.  The Initiative is intended to improve the climate for
business growth, expand trade, yield modern efficient infrastructures and
make technology work for Canada.  The economic reform process will ensure
that benefits accrue equitably to both women and men.

57    In the same context, fiscal policy is established for the Canadian
economy as a whole with the ultimate goal of maximizing the economy's
growth potential.  A strong economy works to the advantage of both men and
women.  It is the government's aim to ensure that fiscal and economic
initiatives do not further disadvantage low-income Canadians.

The Canada Health and Social Transfer 

58    Under the federal government's process of social policy reform, the
new Canada Health and Social Transfer will replace the current Canada
Assistance Plan (social assistance and social services) and Established
Programs Financing (health and post-secondary education).  The Transfer
will continue to contribute to provincial programs that support women's
autonomy and economic well-being.  In its review of social and economic
policies, programs and funding arrangements, the federal government is
examining the impact of this reform process on women.  As women's
socio-economic realities differ from men's, the federal government will
endeavour to address these factors with provinces and territories when
developing principles and objectives that would underlie the new Canada
Health and Social Transfer (see Objective 3).

59    Lone-parent families headed by women are over-represented among
low-income Canadians.  Access to social services and resources, job
re-entry programs and social assistance are vital to many of these women to
support their families, and for other women to leave violent family
situations or partners.  The federal government will seek the collaboration
and co-operation of the provinces and territories to include, among others,
a gender equality principle to guide the social policy reform process.  

Unemployment Insurance Reform  

60    Similarly, the federal government is currently reforming its
Unemployment Insurance Program to increase the employability of Canadians,
enhance their capacity to adjust to labour market needs, promote job
creation, ensure greater equity and create a financially sustainable
Unemployment Insurance Program.  As women continue to be over-represented
in non-standardized employment, including part-time, insecure, temporary,
seasonal and low-paying jobs, they experience unique difficulties in
qualifying for unemployment benefits and training.  The Unemployment
Insurance reform process will consider the unique social, familial and
labour-market realities of women, and explore innovative approaches to
unemployment insurance to provide more equitable treatment of individuals
with comparable work effort and place greater emphasis on re-employment
measures.

Child Care, Child Tax Benefit and Child Support

61    For many parents, work in the paid labour force is an economic
necessity: the economic well-being of Canadian families today is closely
tied to the number of earners.  In 1991, for example, 14 percent of
families with working husbands and stay-at-home wives were below the LICO,
compared with just four percent of two-income families.  However, the
proportion of two-income families below the LICO would have increased from
four percent to 15 percent if these wives had not been working.  Among
lone-parent families, the situation is more critical.  In 1992, 46 percent
of lone-parent families headed by women working in the paid labour force
were below the LICO.  Among lone-parent families headed by women where
there were no earners, fully 93 percent were below the LICO.10/

62    Parents in the paid labour force need quality child care that is
reliable, affordable and accessible.  This is important to the economic
well-being of women and their families and critical to that of lone
mothers, in the absence of adequate sources of income other than paid work. 
For women in rural communities, access to quality child care is a common
concern, and is particularly important to ensure the safety of young
children.

63    However, in 1993, there were just 363,000 licensed child-care spaces,
far short of the number required to meet the demand.  That year, there were
1.4 million preschoolers (up to age 6) and more than three million
school-age children (aged 6 to 13) whose mothers were in the paid labour
force.  Thus, more than four million children may have been in need of
alternate child-care arrangements.11/

64    The federal government remains committed to expanding and improving
child-care development and services for children.  To this end, the federal
government will continue to seek new partnerships with provinces and
territories to explore arrangements for child-care financing.  In addition,
the federal government is committed to: 

      - 65   implementing the research and development program, Child Care
Visions, beginning in 1995-1996, which will spend $6 million annually to
assess models of service, and study and evaluate best child-care practices;

      - 66   with First Nations and Inuit representatives, designing a
framework for child care in reserve and Inuit communities to result in
3,600 new child-care spaces over the next three years; the total investment
is about $72 million; and

      - 67   conducting a study of the child-care sector to assess the
future demand for child-care workers, required qualifications and means to
prepare people to meet the demand.

68    The federal government currently provides assistance to low- and
middle-income families with children, through the Child Tax Benefit. 
Introduced in 1993, the Child Tax Benefit provides tax-free monthly
payments, generally to mothers.  The Child Care Expense Deduction,
introduced as a measure of assistance primarily for women, helps offset
expenses incurred by lone-parent families and families where both parents
work outside the home.  Its purpose is to recognize, for tax purposes, the
child-care expenses that taxpayers must incur while earning income,
attending a recognized educational institution full-time or taking
vocational training.  In this way, the tax system acknowledges that these
taxpayers have a lower capacity to pay taxes than other taxpayers with the
same income but without child-care expenses.  The effect of this deduction
is that, up to a limit, income used to pay for child-care expenses is not
taxable.  The equivalent-to-married credit recognizes the lower ability of
lone-parent families to pay tax.  Taxpayers without a spouse may claim this
credit for a dependent child under 18, a dependent parent or a grandparent.

69    In cases when parents are separated or divorced, both parents
continue to be responsible for the support of their children.  Enforcement
of support orders is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility;
however, through the Federal Child Support Enforcement Initiative, the
federal government proposes to assist provincial and territorial
governments to improve support enforcement.

Broadening Women's Representation and Distribution in Education and
Training Fields 

70    To be competitive in the changing labour market, women need to
broaden their representation and distribution in education and training in
non-traditional and expanding fields.  Access to education and training for
some women may be constrained by the inequitable load they carry for family
and community responsibilities, such as child and dependant care, which
limits their available time and energy; by lower levels of literacy and
numeracy;12/ and by limited financial resources.

71    To enhance the representation and distribution of women in all
education (see also Objective 5) and training, the federal government is
committed to: 

      - 72   promoting, in consultation and agreement with the provinces and
territories, a lifelong learning approach to labour market participation
through the provision of education, training and retraining programs and
employment services targeted at women re-entrants, Unemployment Insurance
claimants, social assistance recipients, youth and students;

      - 73   continuing to promote, in consultation and agreement with the
provinces and territories, initiatives that incorporate prior learning
assessments and accreditation methods to recognize the experiences,
knowledge and skills that women acquire outside the paid labour force, as
well as credentials that women earn in foreign institutions.13/  The
federal government will also sponsor the National Conference on Prior
Learning Assessment in October 1995;   

      - 74   promoting and facilitating opportunities for women to develop
managerial, entrepreneurial, technical and leadership skills in all spheres
(see also Objective 6); 

      - 75   exploring, in consultation with the provinces and territories,
measures to provide training and services to enable women employed in
low-paying vulnerable sectors of the economy to attain better-paying
sustainable employment in higher-demand employment sectors; 

      - 76   determining, in consultation and agreement with the provinces
and territories, innovative ways of delivering employment programs and
services to women;

      - 77   supporting and encouraging Canadian students, particularly
women, to achieve excellence in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics and to choose careers in science.  Programs geared to this
include the Science Culture Canada Program, the Partners in Education
Program, Wardens Training Program and the Career Mentoring for Women in
Sciences Program;

      - 78   improving the future employability of young people through the
Youth Service Canada initiative which provides job skills through service
experience to out-of-school and unemployed young people between the ages of
18 and 24, and through the Youth Internship Program which provides
assistance with the implementation of structured pathways that incorporate
on-the-job training with classroom studies for employment in occupations
within emerging and growing sectors of the economy; 

      - 79   stimulating learning through the SchoolNet and Internet;

      - 80   continuing to provide funding to assist eligible status Indians
and Inuit in gaining a post-secondary education (64 percent of the students
assisted through these programs in 1992-1993 were Aboriginal women); and

      - 81   promoting, in partnership with the provinces, territories and
women's organizations, the development of resources and tools (manuals,
videos) to address the labour-market training needs of women.

Improving Women's Access to, and Progress in, the Paid Labour Market

82    While women's participation in the paid labour market has increased
sharply over the last 30 years (57 percent of all women were in the paid
labour market in 1995, up from 41 percent in 1975), they remain
concentrated in the lower echelons (such as clerical and service
industries) and are under-represented in management and higher-status
occupational levels.  Women are still under-represented in many
non-traditional occupations; emerging occupational categories are quickly
dominated by men.  As of 1993, women represented 42 percent of managers and
administrators, 56 percent of managers in social science and religion, but
just 18 percent of managers in the fields of natural sciences, engineering
and mathematics.  They were also under-represented in goods-producing
industries: two percent of construction workers, nine percent of
transportation workers and 18 percent of manufacturing workers were
women.14/

83    While the role of workers with disabilities in the paid economy has
expanded in recent years, a much smaller proportion of the population with
disabilities participates in the paid labour force compared to the
population without disabilities.  In 1986, 40 percent of men with
disabilities and 61 percent of women with disabilities were not
participating in the paid labour force, compared with 12 percent of men
without disabilities and 32 percent of women without disabilities.  In the
same year, 50 percent of men with disabilities aged 15 to 64 were employed,
compared with 80 percent of men without disabilities.  The employment rate
of women with disabilities is even lower: 31 percent participated in the
paid labour force, compared with 60 percent of women without
disabilities.15/

84    The majority of women employed outside the home continue to work in
occupations with traditionally high concentrations of women.  In 1993, 71
percent of all working women were employed in teaching, nursing and
health-related occupations, clerical work, or sales and service
occupations.  Women are more likely than men (86 percent versus 63 percent,
in 1993) to work in the service sector, which tends to be lower paying and
lacks pension and benefit plans, than in the goods-producing industries. 
Traditionally female occupations continue to be undervalued and underpaid.

85    Women are more likely to be in part-time (26 percent compared with 10
percent for men, in 1993) or non-standard employment.  Many women work
part-time because they cannot find full-time work.  In 1993, 34 percent of
female part-time workers would have preferred full-time work but could not
find it.  Women also have more absences from the paid labour market for
family-care reasons than do men.  

86    The federal government will continue to improve women's access to,
and progress in, the paid labour market through integrated and targeted
measures.  The federal government's employability improvement initiatives
and supports will encompass programs and services such as employment
counseling and assessment, labour-market information, job finding
assistance, training, work experience, income support, child-care and
employment supports, wage subsidies and earning supplements.  In addition,
the federal government is committed to: 

      - 87   continuing to administer and monitor the Employment Equity Act
applying to federally regulated employers and Crown corporations with 100
or more employees, and the Federal Contractors Program for Employment
Equity (designed to ensure that contractors with a work force of over 100,
bidding on government contracts of $200,000 and over, implement employment
equity programs); 

      - 88   strengthening the Employment Equity Act by increasing its scope
to include the federal public service and by expanding the mandate of the
Canadian Human Rights Commission to enforce the Act (see also Objective 8);


      - 89   exploring ways to encourage greater union involvement in the
implementation of pay equity, assisting small employers to implement pay
equity and improving the federal Equal Pay Program (it will also examine
improvements to existing pay equity provisions under the Canadian Human
Rights Act); 

      - 90   sponsoring public education, promotional and information
initiatives to help counter the growing "backlash" phenomenon, based on
misperceptions of women's relative equality gains in the workplace (see
also Objective 6);

      - 91   encouraging the review of female-dominated occupational
profiles to improve recognition and remuneration for all skills used in a
job; 

      - 92   promoting pay equity by improving recognition of the experience
acquired in unremunerated work, including household management, as skill
requirements applicable in the workplace; 

      - 93   encouraging and supporting mentoring programs for women within
the paid labour market (see also Objectives 6 and 8); 

      - 94   assessing and monitoring the economic and social vulnerability
of non-standard workers, in particular women working in home-based,
piece-rate assembly, clerical, textile or other low-income jobs; 

      - 95   increasing the horizontal mobility between traditionally
female-held occupations and other occupations; 

      - 96   supporting activities of sector councils, labour, business and
women's organizations to improve access and retention of women in
traditionally male-dominated sectors and occupations (see also Objective
5); 

      - 97   promoting flexible arrangements for income support and child
care for employment program participants, and transition supports and
accommodation for persons with disabilities; 

      - 98   supporting innovative projects to improve women's employment
opportunities, through partnership activities with unions, industry and
business, research and development, and the development and dissemination
of gender-awareness material to promote women in the labour force;

      - 99   considering female lone-parents' needs to balance their
labour-market activities, household-management, child-rearing and
elder-care responsibilities (see also Objective 3);

      - 100        continuing to fund initiatives dealing with labour-market
adjustment issues affecting Aboriginal women by providing employment and
training opportunities which may also include Aboriginal child-care
initiatives;

      - 101        through consultations with farm women, reviewing
government economic supports to farm women, and identifying ways to improve
farm women's representation in policy analysis and decision making in the
agri-food sector; and

      - 102        researching the gender-specific impacts of workplace
innovation practices due to technological change and the reorganization of
production processes and compensation methods.

Fostering Changes to the Workplace to Promote Equitable Sharing of Work and
Family Responsibilities

103   The federal government will continue to foster changes in attitudes,
practices and structures regarding work and family-care responsibilities,
to enable men and women to balance more equitably those responsibilities. 
The federal government will continue to promote measures to assist men and
women employees to balance the demands of work, family and community, and
to explore how productivity could be increased, by lending flexibility and
support to families (see also Objective 8).

104   Work-time and distribution issues (including work and family balance
issues) were recently addressed by an advisory group comprising
representatives from business, labour, academics and social action
communities.  Consensus recommendations were presented in a report to the
Minister of Human Resources Development in December 1994.  A task team
within Human Resources Development Canada is examining issues related to
work time and the distribution of work.


105   The federal government is committed to: 

      - 106        developing options to increase work-time flexibility, to
combine paid work and career development with other family and community
responsibilities, such as care for children, elders and family members with
disabilities;

      - 107        considering, in partnership with business and labour,
options to distribute more equitably the costs of caring and providing for
children and to compensate workers for the loss in income associated with
absences from the paid work force to care for children or other dependants;

      - 108        considering ways to improve women's and men's ability to
combine paid work and career development with family and community
responsibilities;

      - 109        researching the extent to which women's involvement in
unremunerated work, particularly household management, care of family
members and voluntary community-based activities, poses an obstacle to
their ability to engage in remunerated work and career development; and

      - 110        analyzing the correlation between the economic
invisibility of unremunerated work and the undervaluation of
female-dominated occupations in the labour market.

Creating Conditions Necessary to Support Women Entrepreneurs in Starting
and Expanding Businesses 

111   Women own approximately one-third of small- and medium-sized
businesses and account for an ever-increasing share of Canadian
entrepreneurs.  The government places a high priority on creating an
environment to support a growing, healthy, small- and medium-sized business
sector.  Under the authority of the Federal Business Development Bank, the
Step In and Step Up programs offer counseling, training, mentoring and
planning services to women entrepreneurs involved in small- and
medium-sized businesses in Canada.  In both programs, successful business
women act as mentors for less-experienced women entrepreneurs.  Networking
is an important component of both programs.

112   The federal Self-Employment Assistance Program provides income
support (including provision for child care), training and ongoing expert
advice to individuals starting businesses; 35 percent of program
participants are women.

113   The Economic Development for Canadian Aboriginal Women Initiative
(EDCAW) is providing Aboriginal women with support in economic and business
development.  EDCAW includes activities such as networking, training,
advocacy and the development of pilot projects to improve access to capital
and business resources.

114   Women in small- and medium-sized businesses need venture capital,
access to term loans for equipment and a range of banking services.  Major
Canadian banks recently adopted a code of conduct requiring them to provide
those refused credit with the main reasons for refusal and to provide
information on alternative sources of financing.16/  Customers will be able
to avail themselves of an alternative dispute resolution process in cases
which cannot be resolved satisfactorily through the internal bank complaint
process.  The federal government will be monitoring the effectiveness of
these measures.  The Canadian Human Rights Commission may further
investigate and intervene on any complaint of discrimination lodged by a
woman against a financial institution.  


Broadening Our Understanding of Canadian Women's Relation to the Economy

115   The federal government, through consultation with women's
organizations where appropriate, will continue to improve its development,
collection and analysis of data (including gender-disaggregated data) to
enhance the understanding of issues of concern to women and to provide
better information for socio-economic legislation, policy and program
development and innovation.  The federal government is committed to: 

      - 116        enhancing production of the statistical compendium, Women
in Canada, to provide a wide array of data on demographic and
socio-economic indicators;

      - 117        enhancing and undertaking new development of data
collection, analysis and publications on women's paid and unpaid
contributions to society and the national economy and on more general
activity patterns including leisure, family and community activities;

      - 118        undertaking the new longitudinal Survey on Labour and
Income Dynamics to monitor the employment experience and progress of women
and the impact of changes in family composition, working arrangements and
wage differentials over time, on children and other family members, and
women's long-term economic welfare;

      - 119        establishing the Longitudinal Administrative Database
(LAD), linked to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Database to improve
understanding of the impact of housing programs and the dynamics of low
income on social-housing residents generally, and in particular,
lone-parent families headed by women and elderly single women;

      - 120        taking the lead role with respect to the Metropolis
Project, an international, multi-year undertaking aimed at producing a
comprehensive program of immigration research as part of the policy
development process (The research is being organized under domains such as
economics, education and culture, and will include an analysis of pertinent
gender issues.  The project is multi-disciplinary and compares some of the
world's large cities); and

      - 121        establishing, jointly with the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada, three centres of excellence for
research on immigration and integration.  Research in all domains will
include, where appropriate, analysis of pertinent gender issues and other
issues such as ethnocultural background.

Women and Retirement Income

122   Despite record numbers of women in the paid labour force, women
continue to face a number of economic disadvantages in retirement, because
of lower average wages and lifetime earnings than men, and because their
incomes must sustain them longer due to their greater life expectancy than
men.  The disadvantage women face in retirement is often the result of
delayed entry to, and periods of absence from, the paid labour force for
family-care reasons.  Women are also more likely to be employed in jobs
without access to registered pension plans, such as part-time and
non-standard work arrangements, and trade and service occupations.  The
federal government is studying the effects an aging society will have on
governments, employers/employees and families.

123   More than half  (56 percent in 1993) of the country's unattached
women, aged 65 and over, compared with 38 percent of comparable men, have
incomes below Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Off (LICO).17/  This is in
part because women tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on
children and immediate household needs, rather than invest in fixed assets,
bonds, securities, etc., as men might.  Just 21 percent of women tax filers
in 1992 contributed to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) compared
with 28 percent of men .  In 1993, only 44 percent of employed paid female
workers, compared with 51 percent of comparable men, were members of an
employer-sponsored pension plan.  Women are more likely than men to
withdraw their RRSP before retirement.18/

Women and Housing 

124   The majority of households needing housing assistance in Canada are
led by women, a reflection of low-income patterns, of a growing number of
women-led families, of women over 55 who no longer qualify for assistance
as single mothers but are not yet old enough to qualify for assistance as
seniors and a growing number of senior women.  The federal government will
study how the current demand for housing differs for men and women.  

125   The two-year National Enablement Demonstration Initiative focuses on
helping low-income Canadians become self-sufficient.  It gives people the
opportunity to discover their own potential in identifying priorities and
implementing solutions, while reducing their dependency on public
assistance.  Eligible proposals for grants cover topics such as options for
public housing or land trust ownership; financing alternatives such as
reverse annuity or community funding; management alternatives such as
tenant- or co-management; and social or economic development activities
within assisted communities.  This initiative is of particular interest to
organizations of low-income women and single mothers wanting to develop
innovative approaches that allow them to work together to address housing
and housing-related concerns (see Objective 3).

126   The federal government will continue to support the existing stock of
social housing serving Canadians in need.  It will also continue to explore
other avenues to enable low-income Canadians to obtain decent housing,
increase the range of housing choices available to the growing and diverse
senior population and make home ownership easier for a wider range of
Canadians, through measures such as the development of new programs and the
revision of existing policies.  This could include financial vehicles such
as reverse mortgages, which may be of particular interest to senior women. 
Reverse mortgages would provide a vehicle to convert home equity to cash
while retaining full occupancy rights, allowing women to retire in their
own home.  The First Home Loan Insurance Program, accessed equally by men
and women, has also been extended to 1999.

OBJECTIVE 3 - IMPROVE WOMEN'S PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING

127   Since the release of the Lalonde Report19/ in 1974, policy makers
have increasingly recognized that health status is more than the absence of
disease, illness or infirmity, and that it is determined by more than
access to medical care.  Despite this knowledge, the health system still
often fails to acknowledge and understand the ways that social, economic,
cultural and political circumstances influence women's lives and affect
their health.  This is manifested in the persistent assumptions that health
over a lifespan follows the same course regardless of gender, that the
nature of common illnesses or diseases is similar for both genders, and
that women's and men's treatment needs are the same.  It is further
reflected in insufficient attention to conditions/diseases exclusive to or
primarily experienced by women.  

GENDER-BASED DIFFERENCES IN WOMEN'S LIVES AFFECT WOMEN'S HEALTH 

128   Health care has increased the life expectancy of both men and women,
but it has not always ensured for women an increased number of years of
good health or an extended, improved quality of life.  In 1991, the average
life expectancy in Canada was 81 for women and 75 for men.  However, while
living longer than men, women will incur health problems as they age and
will need access to the health care system more often.20/

129   Individual genetic endowment, and factors in the physical and social
environment as well as individual behaviour are important determinants of
health.  However, mortality and morbidity follow gradients across all
socio-economic classes.  Lower income and/or lower social status are
associated with poorer health.  Higher prevalence of poverty among women
and their general situation of lower social status have negative health
consequences for all women and for poor women in particular.  Women are
more likely than men to live in poverty, and the hallmarks of poverty -
inadequate nutrition, poor living conditions, high stress levels, low
self-esteem and inattention to good health practices - all take their toll.

How Gender Gaps in Health Policy and Practice Affect Women's Health

130   Globally and in Canada, there are significant gender gaps in health
policy analysis and practice that frequently lead to misdiagnosis and
mismanagement of women's health problems.  For example, women's health
problems such as cardiovascular disease have received insufficient
attention despite the increase in the incidence of cardiovascular disease
in Canada.  Between 1981 and 1991, the incidence of these diseases
increased by five percent among women and dropped 11 percent among men.21/

131   Gender-specific aspects of diseases such as AIDS have been
under-researched, despite ample anecdotal evidence of gender differences in
onset, disease course, risk factors and treatment effectiveness.  

132   Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer death among women, and
will account for an estimated 5,800 deaths among women in 1995.  Lung
cancer incidence in women continues to rise,22/ and more adolescent women
than men start smoking.  Since the mid-1980s, incidence and mortality rates
for lung cancer in men have leveled off, while women's rates have continued
to climb, although they are still much lower than those of men.23/  The
motivations to smoke, the patterns of addiction and the health consequences
of smoking are gender-specific.  Regulatory and health promotion measures
to reduce smoking must consider gender differences.  

133   Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer for women,
striking one in every nine Canadian women during their lifetimes, and will
account for an estimated 5,400 deaths among women in 1995.24/  Yet,
research is underfunded.  The needs of women with breast cancer are not
fully met.

134   In most industrialized countries, such as Canada, women's health and
normal life processes (reproduction, childbirth, menopause) have been
over-medicalized, and women are often subject to unnecessary medical
interventions such as hysterectomies and caesarean deliveries. 
Over-prescribing of drugs to females, and particularly the misuse of
mood-altering drugs, is common and reflects gender bias in the diagnosis of
mental illness.  

135   New reproductive technologies pose ethical, health, research, legal
and economic questions of concern to the entire society and require
government attention.  Women are particularly vulnerable to experimental
and potentially unsafe treatments for infertility.  The federal government
is currently reviewing The Royal Commission on New Reproductive
Technologies' final report, Proceed with Caution, released in 1993, and its
recommendations, including that legislation be enacted to ensure that
ethically questionable practices are stopped or undertaken only under
strict conditions.

136   The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) continues to be
carried out in some countries and causes serious health problems for girls
and women, sometimes leading to death.  Concern that the practice is
occurring in Canada has arisen as a result of the inflow of refugees and
immigrants from countries where FGM is carried out.  It is prohibited under
various Criminal Code provisions to perform FGM in Canada and to remove a
child from Canada to have FGM performed in another country.  It is a
complex and highly sensitive issue requiring a comprehensive approach (see
also Objective 4).

137   The impact of drugs, medical devices, treatments and clinical
interventions applied to women has not always been properly assessed. 
Difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive health services reinforce
women's perception that the health system has failed to protect and enhance
their health.  

138   Improvements to women's health and well-being, and the success of
treatment outcomes, depend on an adequate and complete history of the
social, cultural, medical and economic factors that may affect their
health.  For example, a high proportion of women who abuse alcohol and
drugs have a past history of sexual and physical abuse, yet this abuse has
been rarely addressed in traditional alcohol and drug abuse educational
research.25/

Broadening Our Understanding of Women's Health Issues

139   Canada lacks a comprehensive source of data and analysis on women's
health.  The Medical Research Council estimates that only about five
percent of Canadian health-research funding is spent specifically on
women's health issues.26/  Consequently, women's health status may be being
compromised.Understanding Reform and Renewal of the Health System in
Relation to Women's Health

140   Virtually all health systems across Canada are undergoing significant
restructuring and realignment.  These changes have a profound effect on
Canadians.  The potential exists for health system reform and renewal to
have a favourable impact on women as more emphasis is placed on greater
responsiveness to patient need, deinstitutionalization, the advent of new
care givers such as midwives and nurse-practitioners, the use of
evidence-based outcomes, support for more citizen responsibility for
personal health and health-system decision making, and achieving a better
balance between health care and health promotion and prevention measures,
including physical activities.

141   However, cutbacks in the health system have created fears, and indeed
the reality, in some instances, that services of value to women may be
curtailed.  Early patient discharge and the advent of home care have meant
that women often take on disproportionate care-giving responsibilities they
cannot afford and for which they may be ill-equipped.  They also raise the
question of whether women themselves may live out their final years without
such support.  Added care-giving responsibilities may limit or tax women's
ability to participate in and progress through the paid labour market,
ultimately affecting their personal health status as they become
overstressed and overburdened (see also Objective 2).27/

Priorities for Action

142   The federal government is committed to ensuring that gender is widely
understood and used as a fundamental variable in health policy development,
research and evaluation.  An analysis of the impact of social and economic
factors on women's health will be a priority (see also Objective 2).

143   The federal government affirmed its commitment to women's health with
the creation of the Women's Health Bureau within Health Canada in 1993. 
The activities of the Bureau are intended to enhance the responsiveness of
the Canadian health care system to the health needs and concerns of women. 
The Bureau's work is directed internally - to the impact of policies,
programs and practices in the health system on women and women's health.

144   A number of federal health programs focus on health issues of
specific concern to women, such as the federal Breast Cancer Research
Initiative launched in 1992.  Through this initiative, the federal
government is committed to continuing to carry out research and screening
programs, to develop care and treatment guidelines and to conduct
professional educational and information exchanges.

145   Other federal government programs include sex-specific components
aimed at addressing health issues as they affect women.  For example,
Health Canada's programs in the areas of HIV/AIDS, tobacco-demand
reduction, and the abuse of alcohol, drugs and other substances focus on
the particular needs and circumstances of women and will continue to do so. 
The health needs of older women are a prime focus of federal health
programs for seniors.  Health Canada is continuing to address the lack of
knowledge concerning osteoporosis - a significant problem for nearly 25
percent of older women.  Adolescent girls and young women living with the
adverse health consequences of FGM pose new and unfamiliar health problems
for health care providers.  The federal government is responding by
developing information materials for professionals on the health,
educational and legal aspects of FGM.

Reform and Renewal of the Health System and Women's Health

146   The federal government has three primary objectives for its
involvement in health system renewal: (1) maintenance of universal access
to appropriate health care; (2) improving the health of Canadians and
reducing health inequalities by adopting a health-determinants approach and
achieving a better balance between health care and protection, prevention
and promotion measures; and, (3) reducing financial pressures on the public
and private sectors.  The federal government is committed to:

      - 147        undertaking research to assess the impact of health
reform and renewal activities on women and women's health, including health
services for women, the role of women in regionalized and decentralized
governance structures, and the impact of de-institutionalization on women
as care givers (see also Objective 2);

      - 148        in conjunction with provincial partners and the Centres
of Excellence for Women's Health, monitoring how health practice patterns
are changing as a result of health reforms and alternative approaches to
health care delivery (including the introduction of new provider groups,
community-based services, integration of health and social services, and
alternative methods of physician remuneration); and

      - 149        supporting a re-orientation of the health care system
toward a better balance between health care and prevention/promotion
measures to improve health, particularly among groups at risk where women
tend to be over-represented.

Information and Research

150   Responding appropriately to women's health needs requires a stronger
information base and research capacity on women's health than is currently
available.  The federal government is committed to:

      - 151        continuing its progress toward the implementation of a
program of Centres of Excellence for Women's Health.  By the end of 1995,
the program will select three to five centres, mandating them to conduct
policy-oriented research on women's health.  A network linking researchers,
academics, policy makers, health care providers, community health agencies
and women's organizations will be supported in conjunction with the Centres
of Excellence program;

      - 152        establishing a National Advisory Group as an adjunct to
the Centres of Excellence program to monitor progress on women's health
research and to serve as advocate for an enhanced focus on women's health
research by researchers and health research granting bodies;

      - 153        facilitating the creation of a national research agenda,
with priorities on policy- relevant research, to further understanding of
the gender-specific determinants of health, health outcomes and best
practices (see also Objective 1);

      - 154        continuing to support projects and activities that seek
to clarify the relationship between socio-economic and health status and to
uncover other factors that influence women's health and well-being (see
also Objective 2);

      - 155        producing a status report on the health of Canadian women
in association with a federal-provincial/territorial population health
report card to be published in 1996;

      - 156        undertaking steps to ensure that major health information
sources, data bases and surveys (e.g., a biennial population health survey,
the Population Health Intelligence Network, etc.,) yield useful analyses of
women's health issues.  This includes the development of gender-sensitive
data and methodologies for collecting information on health, as well as
improved interpretation of the data and their significance for policy
making, program planning and service delivery;

      - 157        reviewing the issues of women's health research and the
participation of women as subjects in clinical trials and establishing new
guidelines for federally funded research programs;

      - 158        increasing knowledge and use of knowledge on a wide array
of disease prevention and health promotion measures and interventions,
including screening for major chronic diseases, physical activity and
nutrition; and 

      - 159        increasing and monitoring research on women in sport as
leaders and participants.


A Women's Health Strategy

160   The majority of federal government health programs directly or
indirectly affect women.  The federal government is committed, therefore,
to developing a comprehensive and integrated women's health strategy to
guide work on women's health, to identify priorities and criteria for
periodically assessing and resetting priorities and to ensure that
gender-impact analysis is an integral part of health programs, policies and
regulatory activities.

161   The federal government is committed to using the health section of
the Platform for Action, to be adopted at the Fourth United Nations World
Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995), as well as the lead-up and
post-Beijing processes, to promote awareness of women's health in Canada.

162   The federal government is developing the elements of an interim and
long-term management regime for new reproductive technologies.  To meet the
challenge of dealing with new reproductive technologies in a broader
context, a comprehensive reproductive- and sexual-health framework is being
developed.

Health of Designated Groups of Women

163   The health of certain populations - particularly women from
ethnocultural minorities, Aboriginal women, low-income women, older women,
refugee women and women living in rural and isolated communities - is at
higher risk than others.  In some cases, health threats are related to
adverse living conditions; in other cases, poor health status is a function
of lack of access to necessary health services.  The federal government is
committed to:

      - 164        working with Aboriginal health organizations to identify
and to understand the health needs of Aboriginal women and the means to
address those needs (see also Objective 6);

      - 165        undertaking an Aboriginal Head Start Program for young
Aboriginal children and their families living in urban centres and northern
communities.  The program aims to help children foster a positive
self-image, to encourage their desire to learn and to give them an
opportunity to develop vital social, emotional and physical skills. 
Services offered may also include health and nutrition counseling for
parents;

      - 166        addressing the health needs of senior women who are
particularly vulnerable to relatively lengthy periods of chronic disease or
disability and who do not have adequate or appropriate health services and
social support;

      - 167        identifying the health needs of cultural minorities
(including low-income women) and assessing whether these needs are being
met by the current health system; and

      - 168        continuing to address the issue of female genital
mutilation (FGM) via the Interdepartmental Working Group on Female Genital
Mutilation.  This group is working with concerned communities and advocates
to inform and educate about associated health risks and legal sanctions,
recognizing that FGM is a traditional practice, not a religious precept. 
Materials for this purpose are being developed in consultation with
relevant ethnocultural communities (see also Objective 4).


Women's Role in the Environment and Sustainable Development 

169   Sustainable development recognizes that satisfying human needs and
improving the quality of human life must be based on the efficient and
environmentally responsible use of all of society's resources - natural,
human and economic.  It ensures that the present generation can  meet its
needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
needs.  Women have a unique and vital perspective on strategies for
achieving sustainable development.

170   However, women still do not have full and equal participation in the
decision-making process (see Objective 6).  The federal government is
committed to considering gender among other factors as it develops its
legislation and policies, including those on the environment and
sustainable development.

Health Aspects of Women's Housing 

171   The federal government is also committed to promoting awareness of
the important links among housing, personal health and the environment, and
to promoting safe, healthy and sustainable living environments for all
Canadians.  Women and children, on average, spend more time in the home
than do men.  This commitment, therefore, has strong significance for
women's health and well-being (see also Objective 2).  

172   The federal government will continue to support initiatives that
contribute to healthy housing environments, such as:

      - 173        promoting the five following principles of occupant
health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmental
responsibility, and affordability, to help social housing residents (the
majority of whom are women) make informed choices about their health and
living environment;

      - 174        researching and implementing demonstration projects,
supporting training for housing experts on how to house environmentally
sensitive people and studying the problems of contaminants in housing
environments;

      - 175        developing survey instruments to monitor and compare
quality of life, health and well-being issues in social housing
environments; and

      - 176        encouraging innovation in housing, including more
effective ways to meet the housing and support-service needs of seniors and
people with disabilities.

Occupational Health and Safety28/

177   The federal government will seek to advance occupational health and
safety issues in collaboration with its partners through the Canada Labour
Code, the Public Service Staff Relations Act and other government programs
(see also Objective 2).  Farm safety is an important issue for farm women
who, along with other members of their families, are at risk.  Therefore
the issue of safety is a major focus for Canadian farm women's
organizations.  A new government program, the Canadian Agriculture Safety
Program (CASP), will be launched in 1995 to help reduce the number of farm
injuries and fatalities in Canada.  A multi-level, comprehensive program,
CASP will, among a number of activities, provide assistance to
organizations with shared visions, such as the National Coalition for Rural
Childcare.  While this program will improve safety for all farmers and
their families, it will have a significant impact on women, who in 1991
made up more than 26 percent of farm operators in Canada.

 


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Date last updated: 08 May 2000 by DESA/DAW
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